MAHOPAC, N.Y. -- Local veterans and their families came out in the hundreds to enjoy the first Chow Down Sunday, hosted by State Sens. Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell at the Putnam County Golf Course.
"It was an incredible event. The food was delicious and it was great to sit at the table and some some old stories," said veteran Earl Gunderson of Phillipstown.
The event, which featured cream chip beef and live entertainment from the USO, paid tribute to the veterans of the Hudson Valley.
"It is our honor today to serve our veterans, who served our country and protected our freedoms," Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said at the event.
Karl Rhode, the director of Putnam County Veterans Service Agency said that the event "was a home run" and that "there were smiles on everyone's face."
Veteran Nick Mucciarone of Mahopac agreed saying that it, "was wonderful, it could not have been better. It was a beautiful affair and we really appreciate it."
The cornerstone portion of the event was built around Putnam County's Vet-To-Vet program. Reports continue to show service members returning from active duty are at an increased risk of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Statistics from the federal government indicate nearly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD, which is double the rate from Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 liberation of Kuwait. In addition, there is an ongoing effort to reduce the suicide rate of veterans, which currently stands at a staggering rate of 22 everyday.
"The goal of today's event was to offer a small token of appreciation to the brave men and women who defended our freedoms," Murphy said. "There is no task too small when it comes to caring for our veterans."
"The sacrifices that our veterans - and their families - make on our behalf are innumerable and we need to take every opportunity that we can to remind them that they have an incredibly grateful community behind them," Serino said. "The Chow Down is our way of bringing out vets together, showing our appreciation and recognizing them for all that they do in our community."
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