ASHLAND — Morehead State University, in cooperation with veterans’ services, community, volunteer and business organizations, sponsored the first Eastern Kentucky Veterans Expo Friday, June 14, at the Boyd County Middle School.
The event was organized to honor, assist and publicly recognize the men and women who have honorably served and are currently serving our nation.
“Our goal is for every man or women, who returns from service and wants to receive an education will do it at Morehead State University. This event brings together a lot of different agencies with one thing in mind, helping veterans,” said MSU President Wayne D. Andrews.
“We want to be a service to those who have served our country.”
Dr. Andrews served in the U.S. Army from 1966-70 and was stationed in Vietnam, 1967-68. He has credited the G.E. Bill, which his military service provided, to the means of achieving a college education.
The Expo offered access to many veteran and community resources, education and training information, employment opportunities, medical screening, and veterans’ benefits through the Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans, active military and their families enjoyed a free lunch, live music and were eligible for prizes.
A total of 200 veterans took advantage of services offered.
Veterans and active military also had a chance to sign up for a special employment readiness workshop.
Boyd County High School NJROTC presented the colors and Cheyenne Jenkins, a specialist in the Kentucky National Guard, performed the national anthem.
“Six months ago, a small group of caring citizens saw a need. We saw the national and regional support to our veterans concentrated in urban and other high population areas, and we saw the need to extend those many services to this region of Appalachia,” said retired Lt. Col. Max Ammons, MSU’s director of military initiatives.
“We also soon discovered the desire and community support to help provide those services. What started as an idea, a small way to show our support and appreciation, developed into this unique concept – not a career fair, not a service center, not an appreciation luncheon – but an expo. This event includes all facets of community support for our veterans. What began as an idea, grew as more and more organizations and volunteers joined us, the idea grew as the community embraced this opportunity to say to our veterans – we value what you have done, we are grateful that you are part of our community, we recognize that you are the best of us, and we thank you for your service.
Other speakers included Edward H. Seiler, director of the Huntington VA Medical Center; Rep. Rocky Adkins; Sen. Walter Blevins; Brig. Gen. Steven Hogan; Gayle Hilleke, Corporation for National and Community Service; and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Rep. Kevin Sinnette along with Lindsey Haukom, Mrs. Kentucky; also were on hand.
Sponsors of the Veterans’ Expo included MSU with the support of the Ashland Alliance, Ashland Community and Technical College, Big Sandy Superstore, Boyd County Schools, Chick-fil-A, Clear Channel Radio, Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannin Toyota, FIVCO Area Development District, Huntington VA Medical Center, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, Kentucky National Guard, Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund, Kentucky Workforce Development /Office of Employment & Training, Morehead News Group, Morehead State University Foundation, Northeast Community Action Operation Home Front, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Pepsi Cola Bottling Company, R&R Tent Rental, Shelter of Hope, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Volunteers of America, and Wal-Mart.
Additional information is available by contacting Ammons at (606) 783-5081.