By Shari Harris, Publisher
Houston American Legion Post #41, Licking VFW Post #6337 and Cabool VFW Post #473 joined together to host an Armed Forces Appreciation Day veterans fair at the Texas County Fairgrounds Saturday. The event was held to “help as many veterans and their families as possible” and to “ensure that every veteran with questions received the answer needed.” Among the approximately 300 attendees were 164 veterans.
“It was our third event,” said Houston American Legion Post #41 Commander Ron Jones. “It was also our most successful.”
The Murfin Building housed the registration table, manned by volunteers from the Houston FCCLA and FFA, and tables where multiple health screenings were available to attendees. Coffee, water and snacks were provided there as well.
Texas County Memorial Hospital offered free colon screening kits, information on cardiac rehabilitation, and blood pressure and blood glucose checks. The Texas County Health Department provided A1C and blood pressure checks. Vision screenings and information about vision problems was given by Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, Missouri Dept. of Social Services.
In the Community Building, other services were offered as well as a picnic lunch. A beautiful patriotic quilt, made by Joyous Folger, was raffled, with Cindy Berglund, of Licking, the lucky winner. Silver dollar door prizes were drawn every half hour. A picnic lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and chips was served by the Licking VFW Post. Six hundred hot dogs and 400 hamburgers were purchased for the event.
American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars tables provided information about their service organizations and more. Veteran Glen Fraley shared that he had been a member of the American Legion for 56 years. American Legion 1st Vice Commander Glen McKinney talked to veterans about military cemeteries, honor guards, and personal planning guides.
USA Mortgage and West Plains Bank counseled visitors on VA loans and mortgages.
Ozark Independent Living, a multi-county independent living center based in West Plains with a coverage area that includes Texas County, explained Veteran Directed Care. This is a program for veterans not based on income, but based on disability and availability of resources in the area. The program gives the veteran a budget to spend on caregiving assistance, and allows the veteran to hire whom they choose, including family members.
Veterans’ Services Officers from the Missouri Veterans’ Commission and the Missouri Department of VFW were on hand to assist veterans and spouses with accessing benefits and resources, including counseling regarding benefits available for those affected by Agent Orange, Toxic Exposure in the Gulf War, and Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune.
The Truman VA Hospital offered information on PTSD and Mental Health issues, with several representatives available to help veterans.
The Gideons, Texas County Camp, offered spiritual support to veterans and Palace Union Church also had representatives on hand, disseminating information about their Royal Ranger program.
Veterans and volunteers were honored with their names placed on the wall, grouping veterans by their decade or era of service. The largest group of veterans attending was from the Vietnam era, with three or more times as many present.
Many attendees were given embroidered stars from Stars For Our Troops Inc. The patriotic group of volunteers takes retired flags and passes the legacy of their embroidered stars to those who defended them. The message included with the star says, “I am part of our American flag that has flown over the USA. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that YOU are not forgotten.” More information about their organization can be found at StarsForOurTroops.org.
The efforts of the many volunteers and service officers present and donors who contributed to the event showed that Texas County veterans are not forgotten.
Photos by Christy Porter