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Veterans honored with picnic, benefit assistance
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They span generations of military service, from World War II to the current Iraq war, but their one connection is their service to America.

"We want to honor our veterans and assist them with filing their claims (for benefits)," said Bob Freytag, commander of Disabled American Veterans Chapter No. 17, which held a picnic for veterans and active service members Saturday at Longwood Park.

Freytag said that many times disabled veterans go unnoticed because their condition in not obvious.

"There are many, many forms of disability, such as post traumatic stress disorder," he said. "A lot of them hide from the public and they need a lot of assistants, particularly as they get older."

Paul Reed, who spent 28 years in the Army from World War II through Vietnam, came to the event with his son, Ron, who lives in Cumming. Reed, who is from Columbus, Ohio, began his service in the Pacific during World War II.

The event allowed older vets to mingle with younger ones and swap war stories.

"They like to compare notes on what kind of weapons they used and that kind of thing," Freytag said.

The veterans and their families enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings during the event, which included a visit by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

The Gainesville chapter serves five counties, assisting veterans with claims for disability assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Many services are provided by the local chapter itself, including help paying utility and doctor bills and transportation to the local Veterans Administration hospital.

The local chapter, which has 440 members, also hoped to increase its membership Saturday, too.

Member Wendy Paradis explained that members of other DAV chapters who are new to the area also could transfer their membership to the local chapter.

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