Devens, Mass. -- Veterans Day is a time for honoring the men and women of America's Armed Forces. Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians took time to meet and recognize the contributions of these heroes during a special Veterans Day gathering at Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (Devens RFTA) November 7.

"Veterans Day is about recognizing service," said Lt. Col. Linsey Halter, garrison commander, Devens RFTA. "To all the Veterans in the room, I'd like to personally thank you for your service. It takes a lot of sacrifice and dedication."

Eric Segundo, a veteran service officer (VSO) for the Town of Ludlow, Mass., and former Army combat Veteran, spoke at the event.

"Service to our country is what we have to do," said Segundo. "That is our job. That is why we take the oath. To preserve and defend our homeland."

Segundo knows a thing or two about service and sacrifice. The Veterans of Foreign Wars member (VFW), and former commander, served on a quick reaction force with the 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, a particularly violent period surrounding the country's first national elections following the 2003 U.S. and coalition-led invasion.

"It was a very tough year," said Segundo. "My team started off with 12 and we came back with 8. We went through most of the deployment without incident. Our first incident happened in September. We were hit with an IED (improvised explosive device) and we lost two. In October we lost another two."

Following his discharge from active duty, Segundo has worked tirelessly to better the lives of Veterans as a VSO.

"Massachusetts is unique in that it's one of the only states in the country that has a public assistance program for Veterans," said Segundo. "If a Veteran find themselves in need, has a financial hardship, or they're unemployed, they can go to their local VSO, someone like me, and apply for benefits."

"I thank all of you who are Veterans," said Segundo. "Veterans Day, Memorial Day, any holiday that recognizes our Veterans is a positive day for all of us. Veterans Day should be every day."

The 3rd ID is a mechanized infantry division of the U.S. Army based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. It is a direct subordinate unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps and U.S. Army Forces Command and is the only mechanized division on the East Coast.

Devens RFTA is the major Army Reserve presence in New England. Devens RFTA provides operational, training, and logistics resources to tenant, transient training, and stationed units and area customers.