By Rachel Ponder, APG NewsNovember 25, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Team APG hosted an event honoring service and sacrifice during the Veterans Day and Survivor Outreach Services ceremony at the APG North (Aberdeen) chapel Nov. 12.
The State of Maryland Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander H. Steve Mason served as the event's guest speaker.
Mason asked the audience to always remember the significance of Veterans Day and to never forget Soldiers currently deployed around the world and their Family members.
"Life today would be vastly different without their courage and sacrifice," he said. "Our veterans deserve to be honored for their service. Americans have always fought for and defended our freedom. Only with great sacrifice has freedom prevailed."
He said it is America's responsibility to take care of veterans and that this requires a team effort by government, business and local community leaders.
"When any defender of our nation comes home we must ensure that they receive timely and adequate healthcare," he said. "We have earned the right to be treated with dignity and respect."
Mason entered the Army in 1959 as an Infantry Soldier. He held various leadership positions from battalion to group command sergeant major. As a retiree, he has held offices within Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations, including district commander, state youth activities chairman for Maryland, assistant state extension chairman and national deputy chief of staff.
After Mason's remarks, Survivors participated in a tribute to Maryland Fallen Soldiers, followed by a moment of silence.
APG Senior Leader Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell thanked Mason for his steadfast support of veteran's rights. Ferrell said that Team APG is committed to improving resources for veterans and Survivors.
"We have to constantly work at this daily," Ferrell said. "We will continue to make a difference in the lives of our vets."
Other highlights from the event included a video montage tribute to veterans and a Thanksgiving prayer for the nation by the Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jerry Owens, a retreat ceremony by Sgt. 1st Class Lamont Timmons, and a Thanksgiving meal. Soldiers from the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club assisted with the event.
Gold Star Mother Michelle Murphy, called the ceremony "beautiful" and said she is grateful for the support she receives at APG as a Gold Star Family member. She especially appreciates the identification cards APG issues to Gold Star Family members. The cards allow members direct access to the instalation. "I am always treated like Family here," Murphy said. "The leadership goes out of their way to make us feel welcome."
This year, APG has implemented a quarterly luncheon for Survivors. The luncheon provides attendees with information from Survivor Outreach Services and other services on post. For more information about the SOS program, contact SOS Coordinator Annette Sanders, from Army Community Service, at 410-278-2861.