Veterans network, gain info at bi-county event

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DOVER, Tenn. — A Veteran Outreach and Information Fair Thursday served to provide information and networking for veterans of Stewart and Houston counties.

Kathy Freed, Veteran Service Officer for Stewart County, said this was the first time she had put together such an event for both counties, and more than 50 veterans came through at a steady pace throughout the day at the Stewart County Visitor’s Center.

“We actually had people lining up around 9:30 a.m., well before it began, and we set up early and let them in,” Freed said.

Among the organizations on hand to serve veterans, there were groups there that help support those with PTSD or drug and alcohol abuse problems, those who help make veteran homes handicapped accessible and more.

“We’ve had several veterans come in today to sign up for veteran benefits, right here on site,” Freed said.

Don Bailey, Jr., from American Legion Post 72 in Dover, had a booth there and said the event was important to veterans because while there are plenty of resources available online, 42 percent of veterans are age 65 and up and may not be well-versed in Internet use.

“They may not have a Facebook to help them network,” Bailey said. “What we try to do is offer them any assistance we can or help them find out whatever they want to know.”

The event, Bailey said, not only benefitted veterans, but gave him the ability to network with other organizations and groups that offer help to veterans.

“While I, for example, may not be able to personally help a handicapped veteran by building a ramp, I’ve met people here today who can, and in the future, when they call and ask for help with that, I have someone I can get them in contact with,” Bailey said.

He stressed the importance of that networking and the community coming together to help each other out, noting that in families, you may have a family member who may be well-versed in computers or the Internet, and you wouldn’t be afraid to ask for their help. He’d like to see that same sort of thing happen within the community.

“That’s what we should all be here for — to help each other out by offering help in areas which we are well-versed,” Bailey said.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development was available to help veterans explore careers outside of the armed services.

Also on hand was the Warrior 180 Foundation, which is a faith-based organization that provides “comfort, support, resources, hope and help for the struggles they are facing.”

Operation Stand Down Tennessee also had a booth at the event. The group is recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and serves honorably discharged veterans with their Veteran Service Center, housing programs, events and a thrift store.

Said Bailey: “This is just another way to help each other out — we need to get back to a time where we can be neighborly and care for our neighbors, veterans and non.”

Houston County reporter Jamie Dexter can be reached at 931-217-1827 or on Twitter @SH_JamieDexter.

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