Since Veteran's Day is this Sunday, Nov. 11, we wanted to share some stories about our veterans with you.
The following was submitted by Ernie Hernandez, Post Public Relations Officer, Desert Edge VFW Post 233, Beaumont, CA:
On Saturday, October 27th the 3rd Annual VEAP Veterans Expo was held at the Fullenwider Building inside the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, CA.
According to Bill Young, Major, USAF (Retired), “the Vet Expo was a rousing success! Considering last year’s event drew approximately 500 attendees, this year, we estimated over 1200 to 1500 people from all over Southern California were in attendance. This was one of the best year’s yet.”
Bill and his wife, Deanna are both Co-Chairs for the Veap Veteran Expo and serve as Advisory Board Members for the Veteran Easy Access Program, part of The Salvation Army in Cathedral City, CA.
Masters of Ceremony were Tom Tucker and Jenifer Daniels of CBS local Channel 2. Alexandra Batres of KESQ Channel 3 was also on hand as part of the local media.
To kick-off the event, the precision Color Guard team of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corp presented the colors. Throughout the opening ceremonies, the Marine Band San Diego Brass Quintet performed patriotic music that left the large crowd roaring for more. The Marine Band was definitely a crowd favorite.
After Opening Prayer by Lt. Sean Kelsey of The Salvation Army, Major General (Ret.) Peter J. Gravett, Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, was special guest speaker.
Many local dignitaries such as Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, for Assemblyman Brian Nestande (Lupe Ramos-Watson), County Supervisor John J. Benoit and City of Indio Mayor Glen Miller were presenters and all gave warm greetings and remarks. They spoke of the many veteran service programs they support as well as sharing touching stories about family ties to all causes military and the many veterans in their families, both past and present.
The event also honored two local distinguished veterans Master Chief, Jose Gonzales, USN and PFC,Lester “Les” O’Neil, USMC. In addition, active duty Marines, CPL Jeanette Arvizu and CPL Christopher Magrum, both stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in Twentynine Palms, CA.
Over sixty-three vendors participated as vendors and many other individuals, local businesses, corporations and charities and Veteran Service Organizations all lent a hand in making this years event one of the best so far. There were impersonators such as an Uncle Sam (Dave Lutes), General Douglas MacArthur (Robert Tidwell), Miss USO 1941 (April Moon) and a Salvation Army Donut Girl (Deanna Young).
After the program, a free lunch was prepared and served by the Indio Sunrise Rotary and the La Quinta Rotary.
The event was free and open to the public but is especially geared towards all veterans and their families. The main purpose of the event is to provide information and make aware to veterans, both elderly and young alike, the many benefits and services available to them. Programs such as offering assistance with healthcare, employment, education, legal issues, buying a home or joining a Veteran Service Organization like AmVets, American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Mobile van units from Loma Linda VA Memorial Hospital were on hand to enroll veterans for healthcare benefits on the spot. Sunline Busses provided FREE transportation to and from the event between 7:30am and 3pm with proof of military service, such as a DD-214 form, Military ID, or VA Benefits Card.
Want to know more or help offset the costs for this year’s event or future events, call Bill Young at 760/861-0037. If you live in the PASS Area and would like to know how to get involved for future Vet Expos, you may contact Ernie Hernandez, Post Public Relations Officer with VFW Post 233 in Beaumont, CA. His telephone is 951-922-9320. His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Anita Worthen, VFW Post 233 Ladies Auxiliary at 951-595-5396 or e-mail: email@example.com.