Up & Coming Weekly

November 17, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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12 UCW NOVEMBER 18-24, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM EVENT Resource Fair for veterans and service members set for Nov. 24 by KEYURI PARAB e Community Veterans Engagement Board, supported by other agencies and local businesses, are coming together to connect veterans with resources to address needs, some of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. e "Drive rough Veterans & Transitioning Service Members Resource Fair" will be held Nov. 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Manna Church on Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville. "A lot of the people that we partner with … wanted to do something for the veterans to let them know that we care and we are still thinking about you," said Susan Decante, veteran outreach program specialist for the Fayetteville Vet Center. Decante hopes the drive-thru resource fair will raise the morale of local veterans while providing much-needed information. "We understand there may be some home- less veterans that may walk up and we'll hand them things, we'll make sure they have masks and if they don't we'll give them a mask, and we'll have hand sanitizer on all the tables," Decante said. "If they need to talk to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develop- ment-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program social worker and get into the pro- gram, they can." ere is a virtual resource guide but the CVEB members realized that not all veter- ans are able to go digital for various reasons including lack of internet access or inability to navigate digital resources, said CVEB Board Chair Paul Berry. e event will take place in the parking lot of Manna Church located at 5117 Cliffdale Road. e parking lot will have a Veteran Affairs RV with tables set up in the front and going around the building where veterans can drive through and be handed pre-packaged bags as they go, Decante said. Bags will include the "2020 All North Carolina Veterans Resource Guide," Zaxby's gift cards, reference cards from helpful organizations such as the Veterans Administration, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others. Reaching out to service members is not new to Manna Church. e church recently hosted a drive-thru lunch for single soldiers on Fort Bragg who are not be able to go home during the holidays. Decante said the church's reputa- tion for being military-friendly was one reason they were asked to host the resource fair. "As a local church, we want to be here for the community and we have a building in the heart of the city and we want to make our- selves available and do various activities and serve," said Tom Cartwright, Outreach Pastor for Manna Church. Decante said there will be organizations at the event like the Veterans Benefits Admin- istration to assist veterans in setting up an appointment or to file claims. Among others, American Legions and NC Legal Aid will also be giving out information to help veterans fac- ing evictions during the pandemic, or to assist with discharge upgrades. ere will be repre- sentatives from different organizations to help with financial counseling, gain employment, legal services and more. e Vet Center will be able to connect them with suicide prevention and caregiver support, as well as substance abuse treat- ment programs. e Center provides community based mental health counseling to combat veterans and active duty and provides therapy for PTSD, anger management, anxiety, depression, grief and loss counseling, marriage and family therapy and mili- tary sexual trauma. eir services are free to veter- ans and service members. Current service members can self-refer to the Vet Center without having to go through their chain of command or primary care provider, Decante said. e drive-thru fair will be handing out over 250 gift coupons for a free sandwich and drink from Zaxby's and free turkeys will be passed out to the 1st, 25th, 50th, 60th and the 82nd drivers courtesy of the Bingham Drive Food Lion grocery store. "Many veterans, particu- larly with COVID, are more and more isolated," Berry said. "Veterans by nature are wired to be con- nected, have a sense of team, no matter what service you're in, you're part of something bigger," he said. "Due to COVID, they might be feeling very isolated, then you bring in finan- cial, marital, domestic stressors — that whole dynamic is hard, so it's important to get them these resources." Berry emphasized that the community needs to do this to provide resources to the veterans and to also thank them for their ser- vice. e resource fair is an opportunity to put veterans in touch with organizations that have the specific resources to address their needs. Decante said it is important to connect vet- erans to resources because a lot of them face uncertainty when they are transitioning out of service. Sometimes service members and their families are not aware of the services provided by different agencies. "rough COVID-19, it's more needed to spread the word of these resources and it's our job as a community to provide them," Berry said. "We want to provide a holistic service, no matter what the veteran may have a question on, it's there." "It's very scary to go from active duty to civil- ian life, you work so hard to get promoted all those years and you when you get out, it all drops drastically," she said. "We can help navi- gate the process." For more information to get connected with resources contact the Vet Center Call Center at 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387) or the Veterans Crisis line 1-800-273-8255, or visit https:// www.va.gov. If veterans and service members are strug- gling, they can reach out to the local VA Vet Center located at 2301 Robeson Street, Suite 103. ey can also call (910) 488-6252 to speak with a therapist for individual or group counseling. Veterans and family members of service members can also reach out to the Cohen Veterans Clinic located at 3505 Village Drive, (910) 615-3737 for community-based counseling. KEYURI PARAB, Editorial Assistant COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com 910-484-6200. e event is set up as a drive-thru opportunity to receive information, but veterans walking up to the site will also be able to receive information as well. Several agencies to include the Vet Center will be on site to provide information for veterans and transitioning service members.

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