By Sam Jordan, News & Sports Editor
(MENA) A program that will assist veterans know of the various programs available to them was recently started with the creation of C VET, Community Veterans Engagement Team.
A ribbon cutting ceremony with the Mena Chamber of Commerce was just one part of the four hour event that was held at the Old Armory in downtown Mena.
Over 30 organizations, ranging from Auxiliary Service Organizations, Churches, Educational and other types of groups joined forces in providing needed resources for Polk County’s vast amount of veteran population. It is considered one of the largest in the state.
Dale Schultz of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Suicide Prevention Program and Peer Support Specialist out of the Fort Roota unit in North Little Rock, has been spearheading efforts to get a joint cooperative initiative started to assist veterans in a more positive way.
Schultz himself is a 12 year recovering addict, who has turned his life around and wants to help others do the same and realized early on that many services are available to veterans, but did not know of the wide array of services available.
A 20 year Navy veteran from the Vietnam era, Chief Petty Officer Henry Hankins of Mena is very appreciative of having such a resource available to him. Hankins wanted to “see what’s available and a great way to get information” of the various programs “that are changing all of the time.”
Pastor Ann Ferris of the First United Methodist Church of Mena, is one of the many local leaders that apart of the Community Action Board, which is a spinoff of the C VET program. Other leaders include the Polk County Sheriff, Mena Police Chief, area Pastors and other civic minded individuals.
Schultz was very happy to have the assistance of the University of Arkansas – Rich Mountain and Union Bank, amongst other area businesses in putting support behind the initiative and ground breaking efforts.
The event was well attended, with veterans coming as far away as two hour distance. Organizers are anticipating of having this event on a yearly basis.