Richard Voutour 2009 Veteran of the Year

LEOMINSTER -- Veterans Services Director Richard Voutour, a Marine Corps veteran, was named the city's 2014 Veteran of the Year.

Mr. Voutour was honored Tuesday as part of Leominster's Veterans Day ceremonies. He has headed the city Veterans Department for 10 years, after serving more than 23 years in the Marine Corps.

As head of veteran services, he works with veterans in getting benefits and medals and other honors they are owed. He is also active in many veterans activities, and volunteers with the Johnny Ro Park, created in honor of Army Pfc. Jonathan Roberge of Leominster, who died in 2009 in Iraq.

The city held outdoor and indoor ceremonies Monday morning. Before receiving his award in City Hall auditorium, Mr. Voutour served as master of ceremonies and told those gathered outside in Monument Square that veterans are fortunate to live in Leominster, a city that honors its veterans.

State Rep. Dennis Rosa, D-Leominster, also spoke. He said veterans don't ask for much, but what they receive in benefits is a "drop in the bucket'' compared to what they went through serving their country. He said companies should be encouraged to hire those who served their country.

"Companies should understand it makes sense to hire a veteran,'' he said.

Mr. Rosa said too often veterans end up homeless. He said the number of homeless veterans in Massachusetts has continued to decline over the past few years, but is still over 1,000.

"We can do better, and we must do better,'' he said.

Mr. Rosa said the state has the best veterans services in the country, and the vision of state veterans services is to find for all veterans a stable place to call home.

"We will continue to do more,'' he said.

Byline: George Barnes

Contact George Barnes at george.barnes@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter@georgebarnesTG