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Elizabethtown veteran recognized for Iraq War service

ELIZABETHTOWN - A local Iraq War veteran was offered a small token of appreciation for a large sacrifice. Jerry Peters of Elizabethtown was presented with a $500 check from the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes by Lewis American Legion Post 1319. The check was part of $500,000 in grants for service members who have a 30 percent or higher disability rating as a result of injuries sustained while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Peters, an Air Force staff sergeant with more than 20 years of service, left the military in 2005. He served in Iraq with the Vermont Air National Guard 158th Fighter Wing on mortuary duty. He has a 50 percent disability rating, suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Along with the check presentation, Peters was offered a one-year free membership in Post 1319. I feel pretty proud of it, and I thank the American Legion for making it happen, said Peters. Peters and his wife, Colleen, have two adult sons. The check was presented Feb. 3, during the Four Chaplains Sunday gathering, sponsored by the Boquet Valley Unit 551 American Legion Auxiliary. The program recognizes the 65th anniversary the 65th anniversary of the sacrifice of four Army chaplains who gave away their lifejackets and perished when the troopship USAT Dorchester was torpedoed and sunk Feb. 3, 1943. A film on the event was screened at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Elizabethtown, before a luncheon was served at the Cobble Hill Golf Course. Lewis American Legion 1319 post commander Thad Lewis said the check was a thank you for veterans service. The half-million dollars in funds are being divided into $500 grants. The American Legion has assumed all distribution administrative costs, meaning 1,000 grants will be awarded, the entire amount of the coalition's contributions. "These grants are just a small token of appreciation for the sacrifices made by so many of America's men and women in uniform," said Thomas J. Palma, general manager of the coalition. "Our coalition was able to raise a lot of money from caring people but we do not have the distribution network of the American Legion. The Legion is a well-respected organization with a presence in communities across America. The American Legion will do an excellent job in getting those grants to deserving veterans." The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes is a nonprofit organization created to provide a way for individuals, corporations and others to help severely wounded and disabled Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans and their families rebuild their lives. For more information, check out the Web site at www.saluteheroes.org .

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