Raising awareness, money for veterans
Don't confuse us the Veterans of Foreign Wars with other military organizations serving veterans, says Larry Hill, commander of the Lee Powell VFW Post 5381.
"We're not the American Legion that supports baseball, and we don't have a bar," Hill said during a barbecue fundraiser Saturdy at Tractor Supply Co. in Lenoir. "We want to get the word out as much as we want to raise money for what we do."
Also on hand to help out was Larry McMullen of the Disabled American Veterans Tri-County Chapter 6. They and their organizations work together to serve veterans who either served in wars or suffered a service-oriented disability. McMullen spoke of the need not only to raise funds,but also to raise awareness. McMullen, an Army veteran, estimates about 6,900 Caldwell County veterans draw Veterans Administration benefits, and another 4,000 veterans live in the county but are not counted in the VA rolls. He also said there are about 6,000 homeless veterans in North Carolina. Both the VFW and DAV assist veterans with transportation to VA hospitals and other services. The VFW is staffed strictly by volunteers, and the coffers have gotten a little low in the last few years. Awareness is everything, McMullen says.
"We want to get the word out to the county that area veterans can contact us if they need help," McMullen said. "We want to spotlight the need to help."
Helping out with the food for the fundraiser was Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Granite Falls. Pastor Eric Lane donned his latex gloves and happily served up barbecue sandwiches, cole slaw and chips to anybody willing to shell out a few bucks for the cause. Nearby, the Living By Faith Quartet filled the air with old-time gospel music.
Joyce Hendrix stopped by for a quick lunch and to make a donation. Hendrix works with veterans at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, and for the JobLink Career Center.
"I'm always willing to help out when I can," she said. "I've worked with Larry (Hill) many times, with various job fairs and other events."
Veterans seeking assistance from either organization are encouraged to Kathy Hutchings with the Caldwell County Veterans Service office at 757-1345.