TALLADEGA -- Nearly 60 veterans came out Friday to get information and sign up for services with more than a dozen different organizations at the first annual Veterans Benefit Day at the Mt. Canaan Regional Family Life Center in Talladega. The event was sponsored by Mt. Canaan Baptist Church, George Washington Carver Chapter 78 of Disabled American Veterans and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Talladega County.

Among the organizations represented were the Reentry & Justice Outreach Program, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers’ office, the Alabama National Guard Family Assistance Center, the Alabama Career Center, Sylacauga Benefits Assistance, DAV Chapter 78, Harvest Center Group, the Hall of Heroes Committee, RSVP, Cheaha Mental Health Center, New Beacon Hospice, the American Red Cross, the VA Hospital Veterans Center, and the National Veterans Cemetery in Montevallo.

Ginny Archer of RSVP explained that the DAV van makes periodic stops throughout the area, but this was the first event where the van and other services were made available in the same place at the same time. She hopes to make it an annual event.

Rhonda Springer of DAV agreed, saying she had seen “a really excellent turnout” for the event.

DAV Commander Marcia Pruitt said she had also gotten a lot of positive feedback from the event. “I had one person tell me had been able to get more information today than in the past 12 years. As far as I know, no one has left here today without being satisfied.”

Springer said she knew of one veteran Friday “who had been filling out paper work and having it sent back to him for more than 10 years. He was finally able to get some help today. We’ve had veterans from Korea, Vietnam and Iraq dealing with everything from post traumatic stress disorder to Agent Orange. They’ve learned a lot of new information on what some of the symptoms can be and what kind of help they can get.”

The next big event for Talladega’s veterans will be the Black and White POW/MIA dinner, scheduled for Sept. 27 at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center. Tickets are $20 each.

For more information on this event, contact Springer at 256-362-0115 or Pruitt at 256-493-5085.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.