On his many lists of to dos for Monday — from working with veterans to ensure they are accessing their benefits to setting up COVID-19 vaccination sites in the city’s North End — Springfield City Councilor Gumersindo Gomez added taking a phone call from Vice President Kamala Harris this morning to his roster.
“I appreciate her making the call and she had definitely read my bio because she was familiar with my work and the work we are doing here in Massachusetts to support our veterans,” Gomez said.
Gomez, an Army veteran of Vietnam, is also executive director of the Bilingual Veterans Outreach Centers of Massachusetts and president of the Vietnam Veterans of Massachusetts State Council, as well as chairman of Minority Veterans of the national chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America.
The call came on Monday’s observance of National Vietnam War Veterans Day, after Harris’ office expressed an interest in speaking with a Vietnam veteran in the Bay State.
The vice president posted about the call on her Twitter page @VP saying, “Our veterans sacrifice to protect our country. Today, on #NationalVietnamWarVeteransDay, I called U.S. Army First Sergeant (Retired) Gumersindo Gomez, to thank him for his service in Vietnam, his 20 years of service in uniform, and the work he continues to do for veterans.”
Gomez said they spoke about his work with the veteran population, but also about the residents of Springfield in particular.
“She was impressed with what we are doing here in Springfield with veterans, and I spoke with her as a city councilor about what we are doing with vaccinations and taking them to the wards and how people are anxious to receive their stimulus money,” Gomez said. “I told her how pleased the majority of the citizens are with the new administration in providing the funding and the vaccinations so we can come out of the hole we are in.”
She also commented on his family’s many years of military service. Gomez’ father Ismael Gomez served in the Army during World War II. His wife, Eva Gomez, is also an Army veteran, and their eldest son, Giovanni Gomez, served in the Army for 25 years. Grandson Tyler Rodriguez is serving in the Army, and their granddaughter, Adrianna Hernandez, had just been sworn into the Army in 2017 when she was killed in a car crash.
Gomez’ son, state Sen. Adam Gomez, D-Springfield, said military service is honored in his family.
“Vietnam Veterans Day is very important for my family. Service, duty, and commitment to our country is something our father instilled in us always,” he said. “Today our vice president Kamala Harris validated all that our father has taught us during a 20-minute phone call where she spoke to Ward 1 city councilor, my dad, on the different issues impacting Western Massachusetts.”
Gumersindo Gomez was recently appointed to the Ward 1 council seat vacated by his son after he became senator. The elder Gomez has been a community activist for more than 30 years with a particular focus on veterans.
Gumersindo Gomez said he is proud Vietnam veterans are being taken care of for their service to the nation.
“For the most part Vietnam veterans are elderly now, and most of them have been taken care of with their benefits,” Gomez said. “There are no longer many out there in the street that I know of. Here in Springfield we do not have any Vietnam veterans that are homeless and I don’t think many, if any, in the state.”
Gomez said he credits the work by the 15 chapters of the Vietnam Veterans of Massachusetts State Council for helping address the needs of the veteran population.
Harris left the call open ended, Gomez said.
“She told me to save her number and call her office if I needed anything for the community,” he said. “She said she is very excited to see what we have done in Western Massachusetts in terms of caring for our veterans and our residents, which means she has left the door to possibly come out this way some day.”
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