Published Date

Military Women's Memorial

COLUMBIA, SC- The South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs (SCDVA) along with WIS United for Veterans, and the Columbia Fireflies hosted a Military Appreciation Night Resource Fair at Segra Park on July 2. Enjoying a night out at the ballpark, the Veteran and military community was able to reflect and honor the sacrifices of Veterans, service members, and their families that were present while also learning more about the services available to them through different state and nonprofit organizations.

Brad Shank- Team President- Columbia Fireflies"You know, it's a way of us just outwardly showing that appreciation for the military folks, especially our Veterans and those who are actively serving, gives us the opportunity to give back to them in a case like this, where we've worked with some of our partners and some folks who really appreciate all these military folks in our community," said Columbia Fireflies Team President Brand Shank. "We've actually donated tickets, so there's almost a thousand Veterans who are coming out to the game tonight because of the generosity of people in the community and a way of thanking them for their support."

Throughout the game, several Veterans and servicemembers were recognized, including three 100-year-old World War II Veterans. Those in attendance were also encouraged to interact with the several Veteran service organizations providing services for the resource fair. Judi Gatson, WIS anchor, military spouse/advocate, and United for Veterans campaign spokesperson, stressed the importance of events like these and how it helps to empower Veterans, service members, and their families.

Judi Gatson"Well, you know, as a military spouse, I'm a proud Army wife and have been for many years. And I have seen firsthand how proud our Veterans are. And what I mean by that is, if there's a problem, they're always committed to stepping up and figuring it out. They don't always ask for help. That's not an easy thing to do for them. So, to be in a community where we are actively being proactive in terms of identifying the needs, looking to see what can we do to help spouses when they make the transition, what can we do to help make sure that they have the jobs that they need? What can we do to make sure we're taking care of their families when they're deployed? What can we do to help make the transition to schools a little easier, no matter what it is? We are always proactively thinking about how we can help military families; how can we help take care of their needs so that they can focus on the duty that they've been called to serve?"

Joy McLendon (l) and Patricia Wortherly-Foye (r)SCDVA's dedication to serving and educating the Veteran and military community and ensuring that they have the means to thrive proved successful with the turnout of support for the Resource Fair. Many organizations who provided services such as housing, peer mentorship, job assistance, mental health and disability assistance, and more were present. This provided many in the military and Veteran community to be exposed to many resources readily available to them that they may not have been aware of before the event.

"Not only was this event amazing but it was indeed necessary. It provided the opportunity for SCDVA to showcase who we are as an agency and interact more with the community we are determined to serve. I’ve received multiple inquiries already because of being at the event regarding claims and benefits.  It also allowed us to interact with other agencies and see what opportunities they provide for not only Veterans but South Carolina citizens in general," said Deputy Director of Veteran Services Patricia Wortherly-Foye

Alvin King- Founder-Range Fore HopeAlvin King, founder of Range Fore Hope, was also a Veteran who was honored during the game and participated in the Resource Fair. He stressed the importance of community for Veterans and making sure they are educated on the resources available to them. "As someone who has served in the military for 20 plus years and now serving in the nonprofit space, it's good to acknowledge and get the word out and educate people on the phenomenal organizations out there," he said. "The big thing is always remember that you're not alone. A lot of people feel like when they leave service as a Veteran they've lost their purpose. And so when you, acknowledge that you're not alone, there's phenomenal organizations out here, not only here locally in the Midlands, but throughout the state of South Carolina and across the country that serve our military community so that Veterans and their family members can receive programs and resources."

Daniel NavarroThe Big Red Barn Retreat was also present for the fair, providing their support to Veterans who may need guidance and further driving the common theme of the night regarding the importance of community.

"It's always important to showcase our appreciation for our military community. It's time for us to serve them and provide them with support," said Big Red Barn Retreat Warrior PATHH Guide Daniel Navarro. "I was in the military for 24 years and as I got out, I wanted to ensure that I served those that are still serving now. So that's the reasons for me supporting our veterans of today."

Transitions Homeless Center also provided their support to the Resource Fair, educating those present about the services they offer to those Veterans struggling with homelessness.

Yolanda Green"It's important for us to be out here today to let Veterans know that we're here for them and also hopefully to recruit Veterans that are already stable to encourage the ones that we're trying to help transitioning from homelessness to a place to stay," said Transitions Home Case Manager Yolana Green