Local veteran gives back to those who came before him

Local News

(WWLP) – Wednesday is Veterans Day when we honor the men and women who serve our country in times of war and peace.

This Veterans Day we recognize a local veteran who served overseas and upon his return home he dedicated his life to helping other veterans.

“It’s the camaraderie to me mostly that’s important. Getting together with the veterans here in our community and letting them know that “we are still here. We’re in this together,” Anthony Ciollaro said.

Anthony Ciollaro walks among these flags on the West Springfield Town Common, the Veterans Park of Heroes, and it reminds him of the service and sacrifices these veterans have made and why we honor them today.

Veterans Park of Heroes

“This is the crossroads of West Springfield. To have this display here it’s stunning. We encourage family members, friends, supporters of veterans to come out and see this display. Especially on a day like today with the wind blowing and the flags moving around, it’s just a true testament to west springfield’s support of our veterans,” Ciollaro added.

The Veterans Park of Heroes is an annual tribute by the Lions Club of West Springfield. The flags are sponsored by local businesses and the money raised goes to scholarships for the children of veterans. Ciollaro is a veteran himself who served in the U.S. Army from 2004 until 2007.

“I was active duty army with the 1st armored division out of Germany. In 2004 we deployed to Iraq and we went to Southern Iraq to Ramadi to finish out our tour of duty over there,” Ciollaro said.

For the last year, Ciollaro has been the Director of Veteran’s Services in West Springfield. He wanted to give back, not only to his fellow service members but also to those who came before him.

“I realized the VA healthcare system was lacking in some areas and they need individuals who are going to stand behind the veterans to help them obtain their goal of their benefits, their healthcare, their housing, their education benefits that they’re entitled to.”

The primary mission of the Veterans’ Services Department is to assist veterans and their family members with receiving the benefits they have earned. They assist veterans in obtaining housing, food, medical reimbursements, and employment services.

“My experience in the service was somebody always needs something. If you can help them whether it be the smallest token of gratitude for them, whether it is filling out paperwork, guiding them with a phone number, or website, or just sitting down and talking. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that count and make the most impact and I realized that with my time in service and I want to give that back to our community in West Springfield,” Ciollaro told 22News.

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