By DENISE GRANT
The first Hancock County Veterans Resource Fair, to be held Saturday, is meant to be a day of learning, inspiration and camaraderie for area vets.
“This is a great way for us to provide an event where veterans can get questions answered and make it easier for them to take advantage of many local, state and federal benefits they may be missing out on,” said Nichole Coleman, executive director of the Hancock County Veterans Service Office. “We will even be offering veterans ID cards on location at this fair. The veteran just needs to have their DD 214 (discharge papers) and a photo ID with them.”
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Winebrenner Auditorium, 950 N. Main St. The fair is open to veterans from Hancock County and the surrounding area who want to learn more about the benefits they have earned during their military service.
Before the fair, a free breakfast will be provided for veterans by the American Red Cross at 8:30 a.m. The breakfast, which will be buffet style, is being paid for by a grant from Handbags that Help, a women’s giving circle.
Dr. Thomas Gross, clinical director of the Toledo Veterans Affairs office, will speak at 9 a.m.
After the fair opens at 10 a.m., the Red Cross will give one set of tickets to the BASH to the first 100 visitors to its booth. The BASH is a summer party hosted by the Red Cross at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.
There will be music, food and games. All proceeds support local Red Cross services.
Other exhibitors at the fair will be available to talk to veterans about Department of Veterans Affairs health care, which Coleman said is a very timely topic for veterans.
An eligibility clerk from the VA’s health care system will be available to enroll veterans. To find out what information is needed at the time of enrollment, contact Pete Sehnert at the Hancock County Veterans Service Office by calling 419-424-7036.
Information also will be available about education benefits, other benefits that are available from the federal government and the state, as well as state and local wellness programs. Veterans representatives from local colleges and universities and Hancock County Job Solutions will also be available at the fair.
A career specialist from the local military Veterans Resource Center will also be available.
Speaking during the event will be Jim Steffen, “America’s fun fitness coach,” and Bruce Boguski, a local peak performance consultant.
Steffen said many veterans can find themselves battling depression and anxiety, and exercise can help.
So can friendship, Steffen said.
Steffen, who owns XT Fitness, 2725 N. Main St., recently re-thought, re-organized and reopened his gym based on the idea that camaraderie motivates.
Workouts are now organized in classes. Some classes may include as many as 40 people.
“They become a community and they stick with the lifestyle more. They talk in class. They text. They are on Facebook with each other,” Steffen said.