Veterans event will explain benefits

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By Chris Sardelli

COLUMBIA " Members of the military and their families will have the opportunity to learn more about their benefits at an upcoming event sponsored by the state Veterans Affairs office.

The “Welcome Home Event” will be held Wednesday from 11 a.m until 3 p.m. at the Dorn VA Medical Center, 6439 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia.

Registration for the drop-in event will take place in Building 106, Room D100. The event is open to any Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran, active duty service members or their families.

Experts will be available to answer questions and discuss what benefits are available from Veterans Affairs for those personnel.

Linda Blackmon of the Lancaster County Veterans Affairs office  said there are veterans in the Lancaster County area who are eligible to attend the event.

Some residents served in the 3rd Battalion, 178th Field Artillery with the National Guard, which was deployed to Iraq. Other military personnel from the county were deployed to Iraq as well.

“We have a good many people who are eligible. We want to honor the ones who have gone over there,” Blackmon said. “This is a way to welcome them back and tell them about their benefits. ”

Blackmon said many local veterans don’t know that their benefits last for several years. They also aren’t aware they can go to veterans clinics to receive treatment.

“A lot of them don’t realize they’re eligible for the benefit of going to the VA office and getting free medical treatment,” Blackmon said.

Faela Maney, Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom program manager with Veterans Affairs, said the event will be part cook-out and part informational session.

It will be held in a grassy area behind the medical center, and will feature several staff members who can answer questions in a one-on-one atmosphere. There will also be music and door prizes. There is no charge, but the event is not open to the public.

For details, call Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom staff members Stacey Davis at (803) 776-4000 extension 7303 or Janet Kaufmann at extension 6780.

Contact reporter  Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416