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Car owners fire up engines for vets

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— A group of area veterans are making sure their fellow servicemen know they’re appreciated.

The third Honor Our Vets Car Show will take place Saturday, Aug. 4, in the front parking lot of the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Classic cars, muscle cars, tuners, race cars, funny cars, imports, exotics, antiques, military, fire and police vehicles will line the parking spaces, most provided by local car enthusiasts. The price to enter a car, which is then eligible to receive an award via a panel of judges, will benefit the hospital’s voluntary service department.

“Living in a hospital environment can be depressing. A lot of patients come out of the hospital and view the cars and they’re thrilled to see it, thrilled to see someone cares about them and for many, it’s given them a lasting impression,” said Doug Pauze, event organizer.

Pauze is a Vietnam veteran and member of Vietnam Veterans of America Capital District Chapter 8, one of the sponsoring organizations. Adirondack Chapter 79 is also a sponsor. As a veteran himself, Pauze said he understands the need to help our returning service men and women.

“When our Vietnam vets came back … we were kind of shunned, kind of overlooked, forgotten, so our national organization was organized,” said Pauze. “One of our founding principles is ‘never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.’”

Trophies will be awarded to favorite cars, voted on by the veterans, and there will be trivia contests, a presentation of colors around noon, music and food by Sandy’s Smokehouse Café.

The event was started to offset government cuts that Pauze said took aid away from veterans. Each year, more money is raised, with $7,100 collected in 2010 and about $8,400 taken in last year.

James Keller, director of voluntary services at the hospital, said the money raised goes a long way.

“All the money received helps provide comfort items and clothing. (Veterans) are very appreciative,” said Keller.

Each day, Keller said he helps about a dozen veterans get bus passes, clothing, toiletries or food.

It’s free for spectators to stop by and view the cars. The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 5.

The hospital is located at 113 Holland Ave. in Albany.

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