Watertown Salutes Veterans at Annual Breakfast, Veteran’s Agent Encourages Use of VA Benefits

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Charlie Breitrose Veteran John Pagan speaks with State Rep. Steve Owens at the 2021 Veteran’s Day Breakfast. Pagan, a Vietnam era veteran, is dressed in the Army infantry jungle fatigues worn during the Vietnam War.

A group of veterans celebrated Veteran’s Day on Thursday at the annual breakfast, where Watertown Veterans Services Officer (VSO) Patrick George encouraged them to take advantage of the benefits they earned by serving their country.

The event was held at the Charles Shutt Detachment, which is now home to both the Marine Corps League and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1105.

“It’s good to see everyone again in person as we transition back to events where we can actually see each other again,” George said. “It’s good to be able to go out and connect with the veterans in the community and speak with everyone.”

Chaplain Mike Munger spoke a few words to open the ceremony, and Dawn Slaven spoke about the POW-MIA table at the Shutt Detachment that honors service members who are missing in action or are prisoners of war.

“We are veterans and regardless of what day it is we always want to recognize that and ensure that those who are no longer with us, those who are still missing in action, who are prisoners of war, are not forgotten,” George said.

Charlie Breitrose Veterans Services Officer Patrick George speaks at the 2021 Veteran’s Day Breakfast.

During the event, George read Gov. Charlie Baker’s proclamation declaring Nov. 11, 2021, Veteran’s Day in Massachusetts, in which the governor noted it marks the 103rd anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I on Nov. 11, 1918, and that the Bay State has approximately 388,000 veterans.

In Massachusetts, we always say it is Veteran’s Day everyday, not just on Nov. 11, and that’s almost required by law,” George said. “In every city and town there is a VSO, so right now in almost every city and town in Massachusetts, my counterparts are talking to people in veterans halls, talking to veterans like you.”

George heard from many veterans during the pandemic, especially when the Veterans Administration (VA) offered the COVID-19 vaccine before many other health care providers.

“I hope that the veterans that utilized the VA for that purpose continue to utilize that. It’s a benefit you earned and it’s a benefit that is not going to go away anytime soon,” George said. “The only way the VA goes away is if the veterans (like you) stop using it.”

Charlie Breitrose Chaplain Mike Munger speaks during the annual Watertown Veteran’s Day Breakfast on Thursday.

Veterans can get services such as health care and other benefits through the VA, George said. The type of benefits and level of coverage depends on a variety of factors including whether the health issue is related to the person’s military service, as well as income and assets.

Some benefits, such as covering treatment for illnesses related to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, are covered completely if the veteran meets the qualifying conditions, George said.

For medical treatment, those who qualify can go to the area VA health care centers including facilities in Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Bedford. George said he can help people get to appointments if they need transportation.

Those who can qualify for benefits can not only help themselves but their family, George said.

“It is not so much for them, but for their families,” George said. “They are not taking it away from other veterans. It will make their wife’s life, or husband’s life easier. If they pass away, their spouse will qualify.”

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