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Somerville Veterans Day: Speakers Talk of New Generation of Vets

In ceremonies held at the George Dilboy VFW post in Davis Square, speakers honored veterans who have served and spoke of a new generation of vets who are coming home from war.

Friday morning, Somerville observed Veterans Day at a ceremony held at the .

During the cerenomy, the city awarded its first ever Veteran of the Year award to , fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received a Purple Heart.

Having recently suffered an injury, DiMartino was not on hand to accept the award. His friend, John O'Leary, a fellow veteran, accepted the award on his behalf.

Helen Latanowich, who lost a son in Vietnam, was this year's Gold Star Mother. She pinned a rose to a wreath honoring Somerville's veterans.

Speaking to the crowd—the room was full—Bob Hickey, a member of the Allied Veterans Council, talked about armed-service members who are prisoners of war and missing in action, asking those in attendance to keep POWs and MIAs in their hearts.

Supporting a new group of veterans 

Hickey also spoke about a new generation of veterans who are now coming back from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

"The wars nowadays are different, but the same," he said, and the new generation of veterans "need our help."

"It's up to us as veterans to make sure the younger veterans, as they're coming home, they're taken care of," he said. 

Veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghaninstan face an unemployment rate of about 20 percent, more than twice the overall national unemployment rate, which is at about 9 percent.

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone shared Hickey's thoughts about this new generation. "We have a lot of veterans coming home right now from a different place and a different war," he said. "Hundreds of thousands will be coming home soon." They will need support, Curtatone said.

Board of Aldermen's only vet prepares to leave

Ward 4 Alderman Walter Pero, who served in Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the middle of the Cold War, did not run for re-election to the Board of Aldermen this year.

"For me, it's obviously a special day," he told Somerville Patch. "When I leave there will be no veterans as elected officials" in Somerville city government. It will be the first time that's been the case in as long as he can remember. 

"I hope there are some veterans elected in the future," he said.

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