Former servicemen visit Rockford for annual ‘Stand Down for Veterans’ event

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford’s annual “Stand Down for Veterans” event gave local veterans a chance to get together and access free services on Friday.

Held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, at 406 N. Main Street, the event was also a way for veterans like Jerald Martin to share stories, including his time with the Army, and being very close to three atomic bomb blasts.

“I was a little less than 8 miles away from ground zero when it went off,” Martin remembered. “So, I got the heat and didn’t have to have a hair cut for about a month.”

85-year-old Martin doesn’t let anything get in the way of living life the way he wants, he says.

He was out on the dance floor at today’s event.

The event offers health and wellness services for veterans, and is meant to show appreciation for the sacrifices made by men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“As veterans, we need to to this for our veterans, because we’re not all created the same,” said President of Top of Illinois’ Veterans Standout, which organized the event. “Some start falling through the cracks. That’s what we’re going to do, a hand up, not a hand out.”

Local veterans were also given free rides on Rockford Mass Transit Buses on Friday.

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