Service groups attend Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Resource Fair

Photo by Janelle Patterson The commons at Washington State Community College fills with vendors for the fourth annual Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Resource Fair Thursday.

MARIETTA – Local military veterans were presented with 35 organizations Thursday at the Mid-Ohio Valley Veterans Resource Fair, all prepared to meet needs of those in the military and their dependent families.

The fair was held in the commons of Washington State Community College, featuring tables from banks to medicine to outreach groups.

“We have more service organizations participating this year than before and we have the major players in banking, medical, legal and education services all here,” said Veteran Service Commissioner Jared Smith. “It’s a resource we made sure to cover with both sides of the (Ohio) River with veteran service commissions from Athens, Morgan, Noble and Washington counties and from the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance.”

And though the fair is an annual function of the last four years, it serves a purpose which Sgt. First Class Jack Alvarez said must be reiterated and could impact more than those who have served in the armed forces.

“I’m taking business and accounting here at Washington State and this fair is about more than just us who have served, it’s about our families and even the other students here,” he said, noting recruiting tables for both the U.S. Marines and the Coast Guard.

Alvarez said he was thankful to see representation from Washington-Morgan Community Action and noted the resource, while targeted at veterans housing needs, was just as beneficial to classmates also struggling to pay rent and utilities.

“It’s about the people,” he said.

Attorney Robin Bozian, representing Southeast Ohio Legal Services, handed out information at her table during the fair. She said she was there not only as a resource but also to learn.

“It’s good to know what’s out there so as you’re talking with clients and recognizing needs you can connect them,” she explained. “We’re also running our own informal housing survey here too so we can see what needs are and aren’t being met.”

And of the more than 200 attendees of the fair, many stopped to grab some chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and corn cooked by Wilda Horton.

“Without her tireless efforts as auxillary president for the VFW Post 5108, we wouldn’t have food at events like these,” noted Smith.

Horton wouldn’t take the credit or praise, saying a strong line of military members continues in her family from her father to her brother and two nieces, and the community means something to her.

“I see a lot of new faces here among the old ones, and if we can help a veteran, we’re doing good,” she said. “The veterans are family.”

She said the auxillary is open to any individual who is related to a military veteran who served in an overseas conflict. The auxillary provides meals not only for veterans funerals, but also events like Thursday’s fair.