MCC hosts “Care Fair” for local veterans

“This is a lot about educating veterans throughout the community.”

Michael Hines, staff assistant to the commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home, manned one of several booths welcoming area veterans to the Marshalltown Veterans Care Fair at Marshalltown Community College Monday.

Rep. Rod Blum of Iowa’s First Congressional District organized and visited the event at Dejardin Hall, and said the fair was to help spread information important to veterans.

“This is to help people,” he said. “We hold more of these (events) than just about anybody in the country.”

The series of veteran- and senior-focused fairs has also visited Cedar Rapids, Decorah, Grinnell, Dubuque and Waterloo.

“Veterans don’t always get to know the resources they have,” Hines said. “It’s all about education.”

Bart Quick of Veterans Affairs Iowa HealthCare System also said spreading the word about available services to veterans should be a priority.

“There are a lot of veterans that aren’t aware that they qualify for VA health care services,” he said.

Additionally, Quick said younger veterans may be more aware of their options than their older counterparts. Through outreach, he said that has been changing.

“We’ve definitely made an impact,” he said.

Along with the IVH and the VA, vendors at the event included Hy-Vee, Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), Emerson and Monsanto, among others.

“This (event) is so people can find out the things that are available to them,” said Jeaneene Dowell, a volunteer with SHIIP, echoing the message of many other vendors: the goal is to get information about their services out to veterans.

Tammi Dejong, labor relations manager, said Emerson is often represented at job fairs focused on veterans.

“We keep our name present at all job fairs,” she said, adding Emerson sees more booth traffic at student-focused events than at senior- or veteran-focused events.

Among the veterans perusing the vendors was John Rice, who is in the process of trying to get into the IVH.

“I’ve been applying for admission to the state veterans home,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get someone from outside the (veterans) home to see if I filled the application out right.”

He added he was looking for advice, and that the process he is currently in is “fairly complicated.”

Another veteran at the fair was Rick Peterson, joined by his wife Elaine.

“I think the event is very nice,” Peterson said. “It’s excellent.”

They said the vendors were helpful and they had a good time.

“I served my country, I’m proud,” Peterson said.

The next event organized by Blum, the Cedar Valley Senior Wellness Fair, will be held in Cedar Falls Thursday morning.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com