Across the nation, there is a lot of motion towards expressing gratitude to our nation’s veterans and showing appreciation for their sacrifice. New traditions are being formed, activities and conferences are being held, and ceremonies are taking place in honor of our veterans. Below are a couple of examples.
In Burbank, California, a long-standing fourth of July tradition had a companion this year. A new tradition, dedicating to benefiting local veterans, was begun this last fourth of July. In Burbank, there has been a traditional celebration with fireworks and picnics at the Starlight Bowl. Many of the local residents drive to the top level of a parking garage of a nearby mall to view the fireworks. The managers of the mall decided to make the gathering an official event, and raise funds for a local organization that provides counseling programs for veterans – an appropriate goal when celebrating the nations birth. The local organization is called the Family Service Agency of Burbank’s Coming Home Project.
To make the gathering official, an optional $5 donation was requested, which gave the donor a voucher to taste-test the foods from the many establishments that had set up booths on top of the parking structure. Many of the restaurants also donated much of their profits from the night to the Family Service Agency. A myriad of celebrities patronized the event, some taking part in the festivities and others playing a larger role, including “Grace Under Fire”s Sam Horrigan.
Across the country, in Hamilton, Ohio, a slightly different event is being held to benefit homeless veterans in the area – a mud volleyball tournament. Originally put together by the owner of a local deli, by the time the event happened on Saturday July 13th, much of the town had gotten together to contribute in some way to the event. All of the proceeds of the event go to the local VA medical center, which will then be distributed to homeless veterans in the area.
Plenty of other forms of entertainment accompanied the mud volleyball tournament, including hay rides, an old-fashioned BBQ, and children’s games. All of the entertainment was family friendly and many families came and enjoyed the festivities. The tournament in Hamilton, Ohio is a classic example of what many groups around the country are doing all the time to benefit their veterans.
In yet another part of the country, citizens in Olathe, Kansas prepare for the second annual Spencer Duncan 5k. The Spencer Duncan 5k was established in memory of Spencer C. Duncan, one of 30 servicemen who were killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, and all of the proceeds from the 5k go to the Spencer C. Duncan Make it Count Project, which is a foundation that provides assistance to local veterans. The Duncan family is passionate about the 5k and the Make it Count project, which they administer in honor of their fallen brother and son. Events and foundations like the Spencer Duncan 5k and project are to be found all throughout the country, and yearly provide great assistance to veterans in their areas.
Moving on now to Texas, we see an example of another event happening on a local level to benefit veterans. This past Saturday, veterans in San Antonio had the opportunity to attend a benefits fair to help them understand the variety of benefits available to them, with an emphasis on real estate, home ownership, and nursing homes. There were VA officials at the fair to answer questions and address concerns about open claims and process pertinent case information for veterans waiting for claims.
The benefits fair in San Antonio is an annual event, which they hold for the sole purpose of making it easier for veterans to learn about the benefits available to them. Instead of the veteran having to travel to and deal with numerous agencies and organizations to find out all of the benefits they have access to, they can come to the benefits fair in San Antonio and learn all about all the benefits in their area.
The large amount of local events, charities, benefits, and educational fairs that are going on throughout our country indicate an increasingly positive outlook on our veterans and a willingness to help those who have served us faithfully. As we continue to look for ways to assist our veterans and help make their adjustment to civilian life not only possible but pleasant, we can expect more young people to make the commitment to serve their country.