HAMLET — Veterans of all ages, from every branch of the military and of every war will be celebrated today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Boyd Lake National Guard Armory on Veterans Drive.
The event, coordinated by Rena Shedrick-Marshall, Patricia Davis and Stan Stellers, is a way for those in the community to pay tribute to the troops who put their lives in jeopardy overseas and for all who have served their country.
“This is their day,” said Davis. “This is to let people step up to the plate and tell veterans that they’re grateful. It’s real important to let veterans know that they’re not forgotten.”
Shedrick-Marshall said the event is also for those veterans who are homeless or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other war-related mental illnesses.
“We have a lot of homeless veterans here in this area, so what I’m trying to do myself is help these individuals get back on their feet,” said Shedrick-Marshall.
She said there would be people on hand from the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs hosptial to help veterans register with the VA in case they need medical attention. Shedrick-Marshall also said there would be people present to help homeless veterans find a place to live as well as an individual from Laurinburg who has a work program for anyone interested.
“Any kind of job would be really good for them to give them a start,” she said.
Hamlet Fire Chief David Knight is also scheduled to be on hand with job applications as the department is looking to recruit new members and may be interested in hiring veterans, said Shedrick-Marshall.
“I just feel like this is really good for the community and hopefully we will be able to get them back on their feet,” she said. “A lot of people ask me why this is so important to me. I’ve been a military spouse since I was 19 and I used to work for the American Red Cross. I saw a lot of things happen to a lot of good servicemen.
“Back then, I didn’t quite know what to do when I was young. Servicemen and -women would get out of the military and be homeless or can’t keep a job or were ill. I wondered why they can’t get the kind of assistance that they need. If they are homeless, we should be doing something about it. If you are homeless, you don’t have anything to eat, don’t have any money because you don’t have a job…that’s how this got going for me. I wanted to step in and do something. I felt like it was my time to give something back. The military has been good to me and my family.”
Many companies and restaurants in Richmond County have donated gifts and items for the day. Pat’s Kitchen, Fatz Cafe, Captain D’s, Bojangles’ and Pizza Inn are just a few of the eateries that have donated food and Walmart has added its name to the list in providing tea, sodas and water. Walgreens will be providing free first-aid kits and FirstHealth Richmond Memorial and Sandhills hospitals will be giving out toiletries.
Davis said there will be a 50/50 raffle and a door prizes which were provided by Lowe’s Home Improvement, Belk, JC Penney, Hamlet Ace Hardware, Taco Bell, Papa John’s, Hwy 55, Alfredson’s Import Repair and Hamlet Food Lion.
There will also be local leaders on hand to speak to the crowd starting at 11:30 a.m. Those scheduled to appear are state Rep. Ken Goodman, state Sen. Gene McLaurin, Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue and Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons.
This event in Hamlet was created to show respect and honor to the veterans from Richmond County and help those who have fallen on hard times.
Said Shedrick-Marshall, “If we brought those people here, then maybe we can help those kind of people. Some people want to have a home or just have someone to talk to. The more we get the word out there, the better it will be for them.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson in the office at 910-817-2674.