For the first time at least in a decade, the local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 278 will host the Texas State VVA's Council's statewide convention next month.
The meeting, set for April 26 and 27, will take place at the Texarkana, Texas, Convention Center where at least 150 members of other VVA Chapters around the state are expected to attend, said Greg Beck, VVA 278 Chapter president.
Beck said the meeting's main portion, which will start at 9 a.m. April 27, will focus on statewide presentations, reports and discussions centering on Vietnam veterans' issues, such as diseases and illnesses caused by Agent Orange, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, homelessness among veterans, veteran incarceration and the government's continual efforts to account for veterans still listed as either missing in action or prisoners of war.
Beck added that he will provide the meeting's opening welcome while the state VVA leaders will conduct the main business.
VVA Chapter#278 members also learned during the regular monthly meeting Sunday that the White House is proposing a 9.6 percent budget increase for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.
Beck said that he is also still trying to organize a trip to Washington D.C., possibly in October, for chapter members and other local veterans interested in seeing the Vietnam War Memorial Wall as well as other veterans monuments.
Besides the upcoming convention, the local VVA is working on holding its second annual Wagons for Veterans fundraiser from 9 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. March 30 at the Four States Fairground's Oasis area.
Like last year, this year's fundraiser will benefit local disabled and military veterans and their families who are in need.
With an admission fee of $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, those attending will choose from a varied menu of food cooked "the old-fashioned way"—in cast iron pots over an open fire.
When the gates open at 9 a.m., local bands will perform before the feeding starts at noon, with meals being supplied by at least 17 chuck wagons.
The event will feature both live and silent auctions, along with a Jeep and Corvette Show and Shine, as well as an antique tractor display.
Beck estimated last year's event drew more than 1,000 patrons and raised more than $9,000 to help local veterans and their families. Of the money raised, about $3,700 went to the local Heroes Pantry, which bought and gave out Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams to local veterans and their families during the holidays.
Beck added that another $500 went to help a local veteran with funeral services (cremation), while an additional $2,500 was used to help another veteran with housing demolition and another $1,200 went toward helping a disabled veteran build ramps to get better access to his house.
In other business, Beck announced that local VVA chapter will holds its 23rd annual Veterans Information Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 18 at the Elks Lodge No.#2771, at 3702 New Boston Road.
The fair will include at least 20 government veteran-related help agencies, private businesses, medical agencies and higher educational institutes, which will have representatives there to take questions and distribute information.
For more information regarding the fair, call 903-556-1613, 903-701-1112, 903-908-2135, 903-748-0432, 870-773-8279 or 903-824-2727.