MIFFLINBURG — A clear theme emerged from Saturday’s ceremony honoring veterans at the Union County World War II Honor Roll — honoring veterans is not enough; we have to help them as well.

The annual ceremony took place on a chilly, but sun-splashed morning as scores gathered around the honor roll. World War II veteran Al Hess, Vietnam veteran Richard DeVett and organizer Doug Walter oversaw the ceremony which included two speakers, Vietnam veterans Michael Balducci and Buzz Meachum, both of whom are mentors with the Northumberland County Veterans Court.

“We want to care for our veterans,” said Balducci. “There are unseen wounds... that’s what we deal with and there’s a lot of that out there.”

The treatment court provides veterans who have committed non-violent offenses the opportunity to benefit from social and mental health services through the courts, and veteran mentors.

Balducci and Meachum came from families with a history of service to the country. Both were Navy veterans and both had fathers who served in World War II. Balducci remembered an uncle who served with the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, and lost his life during the Battle of the Bulge.

“I feel it’s very close to me to be talking about veterans, and helping veterans,” he said.

“Many of us came home a changed person,” said Meachum. “We no longer looked at our surroundings the same way.”

The service included the presentation of colors by the Shikellamy Junior ROTC program, and the Honor Guard consisted of veterans from the Mifflinburg American Legion and VFW. Taps was played by Marine Corps veteran Brandon Moore, of Mifflinburg. A choral group from Mifflinburg Church of the Nazarene provided songs and local Scouts were also among the community members that assisted.

DeVett, who served as a Navy Corpsman during the Vietnam War, provided the opening prayer and benediction.

“We are the land of the free because of the brave,” said DeVett.

KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner read the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Walter closed with remarks reminding those in attendance of the need of veterans, past and present.

“We’re here not just to honor veterans, but to help veterans,” said Walter.

Annually, Walter noted, proceeds from the annual veterans benefit and donations collected are used to assist veterans at the home in Hollidaysburg.

Providing a moment of levity, Meachum closed his remarks with, “Any Marines that need a ride anywhere, we Navy guys are here to help you out.”

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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