Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Multi-Day Veterans Celebration Planned for Roanoke Valley

Lea, Bowers, Hudzik, Grose, Foley

Roanoke Valley localities are joining forces to honor and recognize men and women veterans on active military duty and their families.

As a sponsor Mark Hudzik Chief Development Officer for Roanoke’s Member One FCU announced the Blue Ridge Veterans Celebration events Wednesday morning. He introduced Mayor Randy Foley of Salem, Mayor Bradley Grose of Vinton, Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke and Councilman Sherman Lea.

Mayor Bowers said, “Victory Stadium, that stood for many years, was a symbol of the fight for freedom in WWII that so many young men and women from the Roanoke Valley [served] over in Europe and Asia.”

Mayor Grose said, “he was excited with the process that will recognize our veterans past and current along with our first responders.”

Mayor Foley said, “these men and women volunteered and enlisted for lofty principals but when they arrived on the battlefield … they fought for the love of the person on the right and left. That is why we are here today to honor their service, courage and dedication.”

Roger Talmadge is CEO of the Military Family Support Center Inc. It opened in 2005 and was created to “stand in the gap.” The center has the only satellite communications system that family members can use to reach their loved ones serving overseas in the Persian Gulf. Through donated funds, material and labor, they provide home repairs, build ramps, repair automobiles, provide food and hygiene items and information assistance. They do all this with four employees and 80 volunteers.

Veterans acknowledged

“About 67% of military personnel and their families reside in areas away from military installations like the Roanoke Valley. The military families left behind are ignored and not recognized nor supported for their sacrifices,” said Talmadge.

Nancy Short program director for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at the Salem Veterans Administration helps coordinate services to assist in the transition of veterans to civilian life. Assistance comes for medical, mental and substance abuse issues while the program also helps them connect to financial resources.

On September 9, a 5K Run/Walk will start at Wasena Park. Sign-in starts at 8:00 a.m. The event proceeds benefit the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, Military Family Support Center and Patrick County Marine J. B. Kerns, a triple amputee. Kerns lost both legs during an IED blast in Afghanistan. The $25 registration fee goes straight to The Tunnel to Towers Foundation that is building the 22-year old a smart home adapted to help him live with his injuries.

For the 5K Run/Walk they hope to have Roanoke local firefighters wear full gear for the race as did the responders on 9/11 along with police, first responders and military representatives.

The sole purpose of the Tunnel to Towers Foundations is to honor the legacy of love given by Stephen Siller, by “doing good” in his name. A member of the NY Fire Department, Stiller laid down his life on 9/11.

In 2008 the Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program. This program serves the growing behavioral health and primary health care concerns for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans and their families. It establishes an integrated, comprehensive and responsive system of services for veterans, Guardsman and Reservists not in active federal service with combat/operational stress conditions Three days of back to back events are planned starting on Friday, November 9 with a tour of the National D-day Memorial in Bedford. Later that same night there will be a Pub-Crawl through downtown Roanoke.

Saturday, November 10 is the annual Virginia’s Veterans Parade when thousands of people line the streets of downtown Roanoke. This year’s lineup includes multiple military and high school bands, a fly-over and many veterans groups. Following the parade there will be a festival in downtown Roanoke with BBQ, music and activities.

On Veterans Day, Sunday November 11 there will be a non-denominational church service followed by a cookout. More activities are being added in the coming weeks. Visit their website for more information:

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Local Events

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