BECKLEY, W.Va. — Hundreds of Veterans, families and community members visited the Beckley VA Medical Center Wednesday for their Veterans Month Open House.

The occasion kicked off at 8 in the morning with a patriotic service inside of the facility’s main entrance. An honor guard presented the colors and sang the national anthem. According to VA officials, around 500 people attended.

Following the service, informational tables about VA services lined the hallways of the medical center. Specialties represented included housing services, job training, income benefits, education benefits as well as medical and mental health. Beckley VA Public Affairs Officer Sara Yoke was satisfied with the turn out.

“We just want to have it be an opportunity to educate and inform the public and especially Veterans about their options and what’s available to them. It’s really important. Maybe they’re not even aware of what healthcare options are available to them. We just want to be able to have an open environment and let the public come in and see what we’re all about.”

U.S. Army Veteran Elzie Shamblin said he visits the center frequently for its range of services. He is an avid kayaker and wants to start a kayaking program at the VA.

“I’ve been coming here since 2010, since I came back from Iraq. They’re like family to me. They should have stuff like this at all VA hospitals,” said Shamblin.

Shamblin got excited when Yoke told him his wish to have a kayaking program at the VA may soon become a reality.

“We actually just got a 3.3 million dollar grant for a whole health program. Right now it’s actively being researched. One of the biggest things of that is recreational therapy so we are trying to expand our services.”

The event was just one of several the Beckley VA has planned in November, known as Veterans Month. On Saturday, November 4 the VA will hold a community Veterans breakfast at the Princeton Church of God.

Following that on Thursday, November 9 will be a day of service in which Veterans can get free legal assistance at the VA.

Shamblin says he enjoys the programming and services the VA has to offer. He wants more Veterans to learn about the place he considers a second home.

“A lot of them don’t know who to talk to. People need to actually get out there and reach out to the Veterans and spend time with them to let them know what programs are there that offers them the benefits that they need.”

For a calendar of events and more information on the Beckley VA Center, click here.

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