Yakima, Wash. –
The Yakima Valley Veterans Coalition held a free Veterans Stand Down and Benefit fair today at the Yakima Valley Sun Dome.
This is the 23rd year that this event was held. The event opened at 9:00 am and this event was for all veterans and their families.
This year they added a career fair for those that are seeking employment.
Otto Cruz, a vet himself, works at Worksource and helps vets with anything they need, including finding jobs.
Cruz is a former vet himself and told me that while deployed in Iraq, he volunteered to go to New Orleans, Louisiana to help with the hurricane Katrina effort.
Cruz tells me that “We try to get the veterans out there and working. We try to remove some barriers…some challenging barriers that they have.
Cruz also told me that his passion is helping his brothers and sisters in arms.
World War Two vet Lloyd “Gabe” Gabriel from Texas was at the event today and told me that his parents didn’t want him to enlist until after December 1941. he told me “so on January 8, 1942, I packed a little bag and got out on the road and hitch-hiked to Dallas and enlisted in the Army Air Corps.”
Gabriel told me why he was at the event today and says “to me, people who serve their country in the military…all of them are my heroes.”
Gabriel was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 bomber aircraft and was shot down over Germany on his 12th mission.
He spent 15 months as a Prisoner of War in Germany. Gabriel says that on the last day or two of the war they were forced to march 600 miles and out of the six thousand in this march fifteen hundred didn’t make it.
Gabriel was there to honor those who served and to show his support.