State Rep. John Velis to be deployed to Afghanistan

Western Mass News Photo

The call to serve has been answered by so many, but one man from Westfield is on double duty in the best possible way.

State Representative John Velis is also a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and for the second time in six years he's being deployed.

"If you get tapped, orders get processed, it doesn't matter if you're a state rep, a doctor, a lawyer, a reporter, it doesn't matter you go," said Velis.

Memorial Day weekend is when the Army Reserve Captain received the unexpected email with his orders.

"The active component is great, but I think you're more prepared for getting that call or email, whatever form it comes in. For a reservist and a guardsmen, or a guardswoman, it sometimes can be a little more expected," Velis added.

Velis told Western Mass News that he's honored to be serving in both the Army and in the House of Representatives, which is certainly a rare occurrence.

"World War II, dozens of Congress members as they held their seats went overseas, fought and then came back. It's a different day and age," Velis noted.

This will be Velis' second deployment to Afghanistan and he'll be gone for a portion of the legislative session.

Despite his absence, however, he said Westfield will be great hands.

Velis added that the support he's received from both sides of the aisle has been heartening as well.

"I've had any number of colleagues who have said during your absence we are going to treat Westfield as if it's part of our district. I think you could make an argument that Westfield is going to be better off with me gone," Velis continued.

While he doesn't know what he'll specifically be doing in Kabul, Velis said he's excited to get his boots on the ground and to interact with the people of Afghanistan who have known no other life than that of war.

"When you get over there, you do what you're supposed to do. Follow your orders, carry out the mission, and good things will happen," Velis concluded.

Velis will be deployed in three weeks time. Once he's established a mailing address he said he'll set up a way to keep in touch with his constituents.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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