Members from First Baptist Church of Clinton, located at 900 College St., are looking forward to helping veterans and providing health services to members of the community — all on the same day.
With help from the Sampson County NAACP, Sampson County Veterans Council and Sampson County Veterans Office, the church is hosting a veterans seminar from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 and a community health fair will follow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside the multipurpose building located at the rear of the church. Both events are free to the public. The events will coincide with the celebration of the 147th homecoming, under the leadership of the Rev. Thomas Farrow. This year’s theme is “Serving the community with faith, love and hope, for 147 years.”
All veterans, dependents and survivors along with healthcare providers with interest in services and federal benefits for veterans, dependents and survivors through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are encouraged to attend the seminar. The purpose is to provide answers and to guide participants through the process of receiving benefits. Johnny Pridgen Jr., a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, is chairing the event with the assistance of fellow church members.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Pridgen said. “I traveled all over the world from various countries and a honor to serve America by way of the military.”
David Mason, of the Department of Veterans Affairs and veteran of the U.S. Air Force, will make a presentation regarding the benefit process.
First Baptist Church has about 40 veterans attending, but everyone who served is welcome to attend, including representatives from military related organizations.
“This is open to all veterans and surrounding counties,” Pridgen said while mentioning thousands of veterans living in the area.
Often, Pridgen said it’s a challenge for veterans to receive services, jobs or training during the transition of becoming a civilian again.
“We’re going to try to cover a wide range of things because we expect a good number of veterans (from all wars and conflicts) to be in attendance,” he said.
Pridgen said it’s important for veterans to bring their DD Form 214 with them to valuate their status. Nearly every Department of Veterans Affairs benefit claim and most state veterans benefit applications require vets to submit the document.
Next, the church will continue their special day with a community health fair, which will feature representatives from Sampson Community College, Sampson County Health Department and other agencies. Some of the opportunities available include diabetes screening, cholesterol checks and Tdap shots to prevent whooping cough. Information on prostate cancer will also be available.
“In the black community, men do not have a good record of being checked, so we want to increase their awareness,” said organizer Deveria Vann.
She continued and said the event will give people lacking insurance, or who may be afraid to visit a doctor, a chance to find health problems in a relaxed setting. The health fair is open to everyone, but Vann said participants should bring a copy of their insurance card to receive better service.
Refreshments will be served during the event.
Along with Pridgen and Vann, other church members involved include veteran David Mason, Sandi Pridgen, Laura Webb-Marshall, Deacon E.R. Mason, and Alice Tann.
“We encourage the community’s participation in this event,” said E.R. Mason, father of David Mason. “It’s going to be worthwhile and it’s something the veterans can get a lot of information on. Mr, Pridgen has done an excellent job putting it together and and Mrs. Vann has done an excellent job getting the health fair. It’s something that the community needs to participate in.”
For more information about the veterans seminar, contact Pridgen at 910-990-159 or by email at [email protected] Vann can be reached at 910-592-6944 or by email at [email protected], for additional information regarding the health fair.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.