Some 41 governmental or private organizations, ranging from the Veterans Administration and Texas Veterans Commission to the Texas Land Board, are scheduled to participate in the free event, set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gilmer Civic Center on U.S. 271. (Veterans who are still being assisted at 2 p.m. will continue to be helped past that hour.)
The Carter Blood Bank mobile collection unit will also be on hand.
“We have counselors that are highly skilled with the benefits, and the ever present paperwork related to applying for them,” said Jerry Holsworth, second vice commander of sponsoring American Legion R.E. Peppy Blount Post No. 320. VA counselors will be present to cover such topics as health care, addiction and education.
“Looking for jobs? We have some experts here to help you. Want to build a home? Need financial help? It is there,” Holsworth said.
“You may not find the answers to your issues here in a few hours, but you will find paths that are opened for you to follow and explore. As in life there are no guarantees, but you will know what is available for veterans, their families and surviving family members.”
Among benefits which veterans can investigate at the fair, Holsworth said, are free lifetime health care for them and their spouses in any hospital, a special rate for home mortgages, increasing the partial disability benefits they already receive, state loans to buy property or start a business, and legal services.
The surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran who died in 2011 or later may be able to get all property taxes waived. Benefits for children of living or dead veterans are also available, and activities will be available for children attending the fair.
About 312 veterans registered at the event last year, although actual attendance was estimated at about 350, Holsworth said. The Legion, whose local commander is Mike Trull, hopes for 400 this time, he said.
Today’s event is for all honorably discharged veterans, including women,whether they saw combat or not, regardless of where they reside.
Among groups planning to participate will be the Gilmer High School Jr. Air Force ROTC, the Patriot Guard Riders, and the Flight of the Phoenix Aviation Museum.
All services are free and nothing will be sold at the event, although donations will be accepted.