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Area agencies teaming up for veterans services fair

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jun 15, 2016 at 9:39 PM

Services for Those Who Have Served, the Northeast Tennessee region’s fifth annual informational services fair for veterans, will be held Friday at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Johnson City.

A one-stop shop for veterans in all stations of life in need of assistance or interested in learning more about the array programs available to them locally, the event will get underway at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony and brief comments from Ed Jennings, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Southeast Region; U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st; Johnson City Mayor Clayton Stout and David Shields, Homeless Program coordinator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home.

The fair, featuring program information and initial points of contact for about 30 local veterans service programs, will get underway at 9 and continue through 1:30 p.m. in Munsey’s Christian Life Center. A broad spectrum of services, including housing, homeownership, education, employment, health care and counseling will be included.

The event will also feature a free, Boots to Business break-out seminar for veterans interested in starting a new business or expanding an existing one. Presented by the National Veterans Outreach Program, the seminar will run from 9 to noon in the fellowship hall.

Ed Ellis, director of HUD’s East Tennessee field office in Knoxville and a key organizer of the fair, said the seminar will provide how-to guidance for veterans interested in starting a business as they they return to the private sector after their military service, as well as instruction for veterans who have already succeeded in private business and may be interested in expanding or starting a new venture.

“If a veteran is is interested in learning more or needing something, its a great opportunity for them to have all of that in one place,” Ellis said. “What makes this successful is the one-stop shop concept for veterans to connect with a lot of services

“For veterans who are homeless, veterans who have mental or physical needs and also for veterans who are very successful, this is a partnership that runs from the federal government down to local grass-roots nonprofit groups.

Participating organizations will include the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, VAMC, Mountain States Health Alliance, Johnson City Community Health Center, U.S. Small Business Administration and Tennessee Small Business Development Center at East Tennessee State University, Eastern Eight Community Development District, the public housing authorities of Johnson City and Kingsport, the Salvation Army Corps of Johnson City and Kingsport, Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homeless and others.

Registration will open and a free continental breakfast will be available starting at 7:30, and a complimentary lunch will also be provided at noon,

Free transportation to and from the fair will be provided from pick-up locations including the Veterans Center on West Market Street, Johnson City Public Library and VA Medical Center at Mountain Home.

Steve Baldwin, missions coordinator for Munsey, said ample parking will be available all around the church and veterans are encouraged to drop in at anytime during the event.

Baldwin said Munsey is now in its third year of hosting the fair and is excited to have both a lot of local agencies and the National Veterans Outreach Boots to Business program involved. “Hopefully having it all here in one place will help them” he said.

One of two large veterans outreach programs hosted annually at Munsey, the fair is held in compliment to the Veterans Stand Down conducted each fall in cooperation with VA Homeless Outreach at Mountain Home.

In contrast to the direct services provided to veterans during the Stand Down, Baldwin said the services fair’s focus is to provide program information and points of contact for the services they may need.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538 or P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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