CHARLESTON, W.Va. – This week, the West Virginia Veterans Council held its first quarterly meeting of fiscal year 2016. Chairman Randall Bare opened the meeting with a discussion about the need to recruit more young veterans into veteran organizations, including the West Virginia Veterans Council. He then nominated current member Harrison Gilliam to take over as Chairman of the Council. Gilliam was honored to accept the post.
First and foremost, I extend my congratulations to Harrison Gilliam. His service in Iraq and Afghanistan and as a member of the Council and National Guard is admirable and his commitment to country and fellow veterans demonstrates precisely what the veteran community needs in future leaders. I also commend former Chairman Bare for recognizing the need for a generational shift within the Council’s leadership and am grateful for his many contributions to West Virginia veterans during his tenure as Chair.
This change within the Council reflects discussions that are reverberating throughout the country within veteran service organizations. As the average age of members continues to rise, many have recognized the need for new, fresh ideas, and leaders who will continue serving veterans just as generations before them have.
For those who aren’t familiar with veteran service organizations, I assure you, their efforts to help fellow veterans and their families are unparalleled. They indeed facilitate and foster relationships among service members who share similar experiences, but they also step in to ensure no man or woman is left behind when state and federal resources fall short. I know of many occasions when the VFW, Marine Corps League or DAV, for example, have paid utility bills for a veteran who was struggling to keep his family warm. Or when they’ve replaced a roof, searched for employment, or provided transportation to medical appointments for a veteran. Some even help find child-care for working mothers or fathers whose spouses are deployed. In short, our state and nation’s veteran community and military families cannot afford to see these organizations and their services disappear.
Today, I challenge the peers of Harrison Gilliam, the thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning from overseas, to follow his lead and remain active in service to others. I happen to be a life member of the American Legion, but I do not advocate that you choose a specific organization –rather, I advocate simply that you choose one.
For more information about ways to become involved, please call 1-800-WV4-VETS.
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