By Marsha M. Brown
To say things are going well for our veterans in Dare County is an understatement! And the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council is a big contributor to that fact! There are seven members: Jack Leonard, Chairman; Carl Reiber, Vice Chairman; Russ Laney, Secretary; Gary Kierney; Charles Read, Jr.; Marsha Brown and the newest appointed member Jeff Slaker. Congratulations and welcome aboard Jeff!
If you’ve never been to a Council meeting, please make plans to attend in the future. The meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month at 3 PM, Dare County Administrative Building, 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr., Manteo, Rm 168, the next being Thursday, February 23, 2017. I promise that once you’re there, you’ll meet the best of the best.
Though the Council was established as an ‘Advisory’ group, its devotion to veterans is obvious. Each member is dedicated to serving veterans in our communities in every way possible within their capability. For starters…the group initiated and implemented the free Dare County Veteran I. D. Card which provides access to varying discounts at more than 60 businesses on the Outer Banks. These businesses are located from Hatteras Village all the way to Duck, NC and everywhere in between and the benefit is tri-fold. How? The ‘Card’ was a means to draw veterans to the Council giving Council members an opportunity to thank them for their service and to introduce the Council itself; to have an opportunity to refer them to our Dare County Veteran Service Officer, Rhonda Creef (252) 475-5604 to potentially discuss VA benefits or entitlements; and for participating business owners to have an opportunity to thank veterans for their service and their sacrifice. The ‘Card’ is reaching more and more veterans all the time but there are many yet to be issued so please get on board with us to advise veterans whom you know that it is available. Also, the Council invites and welcomes all business owners who are interested or able to sign up and offer whatever veteran discount they so choose.
Council Chairman Jack Leonard (also a veteran) is very committed to helping our vets and he issues the I. D. Cards weekly every Thursday from 1 PM – 4 PM at the Thomas A. Baum Senior Center located 300 Mustian Ave, Kill Devil Hills. Please note: there is NO fee for the ‘Card’ however, each veteran seeking to acquire one is asked to provide (for review purposes only) their DD-214 showing HONORABLE discharge, their Driver’s License and now…if they are not a full time resident of Dare County but they own either improved or unimproved property in Dare County they are also eligible, however in addition to their DD-214 and Driver’s License, they are asked to show a copy of a Dare County Tax Bill or utility bill for the property they own. That’s it! The process takes only minutes and the veteran is given his/her ‘Card’ registered with a specific number recorded in our Council records. In essence, the ‘Card’ brings everyone together – our veterans, the businesses, the Council members and of course great resources for help, advice and referrals to appropriate sources if they want or need it.
The Council also makes itself visible and approachable for questions you may have or if you wish to obtain your ‘Card’ at public functions across our County throughout the year. For example at Dare Day, Outer Banks Seafood Festival and business locations like Ace Hardware stores (a Saturday schedule for inside Dare County locations is in the works as we speak and in the next Gig Line, I’ll provide a schedule for dates/times).
If you are interested in having the Dare County Veteran Advisory Council member(s) address a civic, church, business or social group you attend, where you’ll hear more about how they can further help or support our veterans, please let us know! Contact me by calling, texting or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org on my cell: (252) 202-2058 or one of our Council members noted above and we will be happy to accept your invitation and make arrangements to do so accordingly. At your function, we can further explain the work the Council is doing for our veterans and use it as an opportunity to issue I. D. Cards to the veterans who are present at the time.
Over the course of just over three years since the initial establishment of the Council on May 7, 2012 (by our Dare County Board of Commissioners), the group has made great strides. Veterans across our County have become more aware of opportunities, resources, referrals, suggestions for acquiring duplicate DD-214 (if the original had been lost), for filing it with the Register of Deeds and about local veteran organizations i.e. the American Legion, V.F.W., Marine Corps League etc. I have heard our Council referred to as a ‘blessing’, “a show of real Dare County support” and “respect for our veterans”. It addition, our Council members overall have inspired an even closer bond between our veterans of all ages and from all branches of service.
As a Council member myself, I am proud…truly proud. At yesterday’s meeting, I looked around the room at fellow Council members; I looked at our visiting public members and at our guest speakers noticing the intense interest on their faces at what we were doing, what we had accomplished, what we were in the processing of achieving for our veterans and all I could do was smile. The Council…our Dare County Veterans Advisory Council…is a good…no, GREAT thing and through it, we are privileged to know and work with devoted citizens like Barbara St.Amond, Chris Sawin, Pam Buscemi and so many other folks we see at our meetings or who reach out to us who care so deeply about the men and women who have donned the uniform of our United States military. I for one am grateful, happy and honored to be a part of it. All of the Council members are A+!
Until next time, be happy, be safe and by ALL means be proud. We are a blessed nation and we are blessed Outer Bankers’. Our lifestyle is…island style and the people that surround us are as treasures much like sea glass…jewels to keep close by our side. We are Dare Countians…we stick together…especially for our veterans and our watermen… because don’t forget for a second that many of them are veterans too. God bless you and your families. And as always…stay tuned!