Texas County’s third annual Armed Forces Appreciation Day is 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20, (today) at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds on North U.S. 63.

Hosted by Houston’s American Legion Post 41 and other area military organizations, the event will once again take place on national Armed Forces Day. This year’s version is designed to help veterans of all branches of the United States military and their families with a variety of services.

Post 41 commander Bob Joens said Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) from several organizations will be on hand to assist vets, answering questions and offering guidance regarding whatever issue they might need help with.

“This will be an easy way for people to see them,” Joens said. “Typically, people might have to travel to meet with the right VSO, but this way a lot of them will be in the same place at the same time.”

Personnel from the Texas County Health Department and Texas County Memorial Hospital will also be present to offer various types of health checks.

There will also be Veterans Administration personnel available to discuss options with regard to the PACT Act (Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxics Act), which was passed by Congress in 2022 to expand VA healthcare and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances.

Representatives of Ozark Independent Living will also be available to discuss a new VA program, and employees of two local banks will also be on hand to offer information about VA loans and other matters.

“Hopefully, this will be like one spot where veterans can come and try to get answers,” Joens said.

Post 41 member Rudy Blahnik will be the master of ceremonies during the event.

“If anyone has a question that can’t be answered on the spot, the people they’re speaking to will know who to contact to get the answer,” Blahnik said.

A free picnic lunch will be provided to all veterans and their family members.

A king-size, patriotic-looking quilt will be raffled off, with tickets costing $5 apiece or five for $20. There will also be frequent drawings for Morgan Silver Dollars, and each veteran will receive a free entry ticket. Each vet will also receive a free “Missouri Veteran” hat.

About 80 sponsors have made financial contributions to make the event possible. It isn’t limited to people living in Texas County; veterans and active military and their relatives from anywhere are welcome to attend.

ARMED FORCES DAY

While not an official public holiday, Armed Forces Day was created in 1949 to replace separate days recognizing the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force and Marines. It now includes recognition of the Coast Guard and annually falls on the third Saturday in May.

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