May 18 is Armed Forces Day in the United States. In Western New York, several events are scheduled to mark the day including family-oriented gatherings and one in Buffalo where veterans will be offered information about important services, while having the chance to receive a service at no cost to them.
For the third consecutive year, Amvets Medallion Post 13, located on Review Place off Tonawanda Street in Buffalo, is hosting Vet Fest, which features agencies providing information to guests regarding health services and other programs to benefit their well-being. An estimated 200 veterans are expected to attend the event, which runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Many will sit and receive a free haircut. Jennifer Halbert, a local stylist, will be providing the complimentary service for her third time.
"The very first event was memorable because I didn't know what to expect," she told WBFO. "After servicing all of them, it was definitely an emotional connection. It made us feel really good to be able to give back to them, even in the littlest way of givign a haircut."
Halbert explained that many clients walk away from the experience feeling refreshed and re-energized. And she and her peers get to know many of them as everyday people.
"We definitely inquire about their experiences when they're sitting in the chair," she said. "They're very open about telling us about their background in the military, their experience, their personal life. We start to build a friendship from there, which is awesome as well."
Elsewhere Saturday, the Lockport High School Foundation will host its LockRock Armed Forces Day 5K Run/Walk. Veterans who participate will be invited to take part in a pre-race parade that begins at 8:15 a.m. at 80 Main Street and continues to the old post office.
The Made in America Store in Elma will celebrate its ninth anniversary while also honoring Armed Forces Day by hosting a family-oriented event that features live music, food, and vendors offering exclusively "Made in the USA" products.
The Buffalo Bisons will welcome hundreds of veterans as guests of honor during Saturday afternoon's scheduled game at Sahlen Field as part of the baseball club's inaugural Thank-A-Vet Day, hosted in partnership with the Erie County Clerk's Office. Proceeds from the promotion will support the Veterans Post Restoration of Erie County, a project which identifies and seeks funds to complete capital improvements at local veteran halls.
The Western New York Armed Forces Committee, meanwhile, began several days of events May 5 and will conclude with a dress Armed Forces Ball at Salvatore's Italian Gardens in Depew on Saturday.