By Christine Foster
Saturday was a special day for approximately 10,000 veterans, active military, military families and armed forces supporters as they celebrated Veterans Welcome Home. With 400-500 volunteers from six counties and a 100 percent donation of all food and beverages, the military was proudly honored.
Sponsored by the Veteran’s Association and organized by Bill Johnson who organized the civilian and faith based aspects of the festivities, services ranged from suicide prevention, homeless veterans, disease prevention and the women’s veteran program. There was also a facility for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn with transition patient advocate Dino Wilson directing veterans to their case managers.
“The most blessed of all things we do are those we do for our country,” said Wilson, a 21-year veteran who served in Bosnia and Kosovo.
As part of Johnson’s spiritual contribution, he had arranged for 6,000 Bibles to be distributed to the attendees. Each Bible was personally signed by an individual who could be contacted for help and guidance.
“These Bibles help with the pain and depression families of the deployed soldiers experience,” said Heather Doyle, a 17-year-old volunteer who was helping to pass out the bibles.
He also commented that the threat of bad weather had impacted attendance, but the fun and enthusiasm was still unhampered. In addition to the entertaining and spiritual aspects of the celebration, the VA was there in full force to assist the veterans with health care, community services and general benefits information.