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Freedom Ranch hosts Veterans Appreciation Day

Okeechobee News - 5/16/2018

On Saturday, May 19, Freedom Ranch will host its Eighth Annual Veterans Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In 1999, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced legislation to designate the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM). Both the Senate and House of Representatives adopted resolutions calling for Americans to recognize and honor U.S. service members during NMAM. These proclamations also urge the president to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe NMAM.

Armed Forces Day is celebrated the third Saturday in May of every year and is a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank military members for their patriotic service in support of the country. This day honors everyone serving in all U.S. military branches.

Freedom Ranch has invited the public to participate in their Eighth Annual Veterans Appreciation Day. Free barbecue lunches will be provided for veterans and their families. Free swamp buggy rides along with military displays will be available for the enjoyment of those who attend.

Okeechobee County Veterans' Services Officer Sarah B. Carter will be at the gathering in an effort to assist veterans and their family members by providing counseling and determining eligibility in order to establish Veterans Administration (VA) benefits under federal and state laws, which may result in monetary gain and/or medical care.

Those who may be eligible are: a veteran, veteran's dependent, surviving spouse or child of a deceased veteran, member of the reserves or national guard, active-duty service member or a merchant marine.

Benefits assistance may include compensation, pension, health care, education, home loan guarantee, burial, dependent/ survivor, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, employment, TRICARE, CHAMPVA and military retiree information.

Okeechobee County provides free transportation for eligible veterans to and from their medical appointments at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center. The van departs and returns from the Burger King parking lot. To schedule a ride on the van, call 863-763-6441, option 5. All medical appointments must be before noon.

The Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) will also have three of its employees who have served in the U.S. armed forces acknowledged by Quilts of Honor and Freedom Ranch.

OCSO deputies Jack Nash, Steven Pollock and Quinton Speed are all veterans of the armed forces as well as combat veterans who will be presented a quilt thanking them for their service. To qualify to receive a quilt, the veteran must be: a Purple Heart recipient, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, have a traumatic brain injury, dealing with the effects of Agent Orange or have served multiple tours. OCSO asks the public to come out and show support for them and their families.

If you would like to express your personal appreciation for those who have served, military.com suggests to: show up; donate; ask someone about their service; write to them; become educated on the difference between Memorial and Veterans Day, and not confuse the two; visit a VA hospital; and get outdoors with a veteran (which this event promotes).

The entrance to Freedom Ranch, located at 11655 U.S. 441 Southeast in Okeechobee, is approximately seven-tenths of a mile north of County Road 15B. To RSVP, contact John Glenn at 863-763-9800, Ron Woody at 863-467-2538 or Dan Hunt at 863-447-3662.


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