By Marsha M. Brown
When the Dare County Board of Commissioners first established the Veterans Advisory Council in May 2012, the seven Council members they appointed knew two things for sure. First and foremost, they each had a sincere desire to help our veterans and secondly, the knowledge there was approximately 4,400 veterans in Dare County…period. Naturally due to confidentiality, the identity of those men and women so deserving of respect, recognition and praise would remain just that…confidential…and not available or accessible to the Council…or anyone else for that matter.
That being said, questions loomed…how could the Council reach out to our local veterans and offer support when they didn’t even know who our veterans were? How could the Council encourage our veterans to contact Rhonda Creef (Dare County Veterans Service Officer (252) 475-5604) to determine what if any benefits or entitlements they were due as a result of their service? How would the Council know who to invite to special events that would honor our veterans? How could they even attempt to bring together our veterans county wide and help showcase all who had signed the dotted line sacrificing so much for our country? How could information and referral resources be provided to them? How would they hear about the good things the V.A. was doing to improve their assistance if we didn’t even know who our veterans were? To say the least it was a dilemma and a challenge.
Because our Commissioners had made thoughtful appointments to the Council the group of sevenwere committed and determined to find a way to learn who our veterans were by means of the veterans themselves voluntarily coming forward. The members wanted to thank our vets for their service and to do all it could to reach out, educate, reunite and demonstrate just how much our veterans mattered to Dare Countians overall…hence…the Dare County Veteran I. D. Card concept was born.
Since that time, the Council has met and signed up 442 veterans who now hold their own ‘CARD’ having saved money for purchases across the Outer Banks but it has done even more good than that. In essence, it encouraged veterans to connect with the Council, when veterans came to locations where the ‘CARD’ was being issued (Dare Day, OBX Seafood Festival, ACE Hardware, Dare Administrative Building, the American Legion (Hall) Post 26, Fessenden Center etc., etc. they reconnected with fellow vets they hadn’t seen in a long time and the ‘CARD’ has allowed our businesses the opportunity to say “Thank you and welcome home!” Now each time a vet acquires his/her ‘CARD’, they pay it forward and tell others at church and at work about it – so more and more calls are coming through veteran referrals!
This is my point…other V.A. issued I. D. cards generate a discount but businesses who specifically signed up to offer discounts did so not only out of appreciation to our veterans but to also help reach the goal of the Council to meet you and thank you. And…it’s a given that you’ll benefit from it’s ownership. Another important thing to note, the information obtained from a veteran upon acquiring a ‘CARD’ is not passed on to anyone, neither is your Social Security number recorded either – only your name, address, phone number, email address, the military branch in which you served, acknowledgement you were Honorably Discharged and that you have a local Driver’s License. Rest assured your personal information is collected in confidence and will remain in confidence. J
IMPORTANT events coming up – so save the date!
The 27th Annual Kelly’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will begin at 1:00 PM in Nags Head on Sunday, March 13, 2016! All veterans are invited to participate and if you remember…last year’s Parade generated the greatest number of veterans who had ever taken part – mostly due to the combined efforts of the local veteran groups and the veteran population in general helping to spread the word! Yay! Veterans rode in vehicles and they walked – even some of the oldest…walked…together…side by side with pride and a unified spirit that touched everyone witness to it. If you would like to join in and let the thousands of bystanders celebrate you as you pass them by…please let us know! Be a part of it and let the world see that you’re a veteran!
All members of the Outer Banks V.F.W. Post 10950 and the American Legion Post 26 are encouraged to attend as well as all non-members. All veterans NORTH of the Herbert C. Bonner (Oregon Inlet) Bridge please contact Carl Reiber (252) 441-9469. If you have a convertible or a trailer that could be utilized to transport veterans unable to walk, please let the guys know ASAP. And… veterans SOUTH of the bridge (Hatteras Island) please contact Gary Keirney (252) 216-8277. If you remember last year Gary arranged for a bus to transport veterans from Hatteras Island to the Parade starting point and back home again. From what we understand, it was a trip to remember! Our heroes laughed, joked, sang songs and had a nice time riding together from points as far south as Hatteras Village to Nags Head experiencing that ‘trip down memory lane’…so again…please, contact Gary if you’d like to join them and ride the bus from Hatteras Island so he can keep abreast of how many veterans to save seats for. In a Gig Line closer to the time of the Parade, I’ll write specifics about where to meet for the starting point (if you should want to park your vehicle and walk along with any other specifics)…just please, please try to attend and let us wave, whistle, clap and cheer in honor of your service…O.K.?
Another date to make note of…
On April 24, 2016 there will be an American Legion Baseball Cookout – 3:00 PM at the Kill Devil Hills Rec Center. Please make it a point to come and support our kids, they are proud of what they do and who they represent (veterans) and they need our support in more ways than one. More details will be forthcoming but for now, just save the date and we’ll hope to see you there.
Be happy, be safe and be proud. The lives and happiness of our service men and women matter greatly – lets do all we can to show them how much. If you have an idea or comment to share with me, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell: (252) 202-2058. Until next time, remember – God loves you and so do we! Stay tuned!