Veterans group to open new office
BY JOHN H. WALKER
Monday, November 11, 2019
It’s called the National Association of Black Veterans, and at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Station Square, Rocky Mount’s Frank Hart Chapter No. 0126 will hold a grand opening for its new office.
Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs, City Council members, state Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, and Larry D. Hall, secretary of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, are scheduled to attend. Hall will deliver the keynote address.
While the Rocky Mount chapter was chartered about 18 months ago, Vice Commander James Williams said the organization is a nationally certified Veterans Service Organization and a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs claims representative founded in 1974.
The association has membership and chapters throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, providing advocacy on behalf of veterans seeking claims against the Department of Veterans Affairs. Its mission includes advocacy for youth and families, community involvement to help create positive lifestyles for veterans and the empowerment of low-income and minority veterans. It also works to generate and preserve the historical record.
“We’re the National Association of Black Veterans, but we advocate on behalf of all veterans who served our country and need our assistance,” said Williams, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and recipient of both the Silver Star and Purple Heart, who lost both his legs in action.
Williams said the National Association of Black Veterans helps veterans find affordable housing as well as “anything they find themselves in need of.”
Williams said the local chapter office at Station Square will be open “most of the day” on Tuesdays and Thursdays to serve veterans, and members are available to help them search for housing, apply for assistance and help in any way they can. The chapter has two VSO-trained officers to provide help. Stanley Morgan is chapter commander.
The group also holds a monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month and has a group of 25 to 30 veterans who attend on a regular basis, Williams said.
He said the response has been great.
“To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed there are so many veterans in this city that don’t even know the benefits they can get and have earned,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to spoon-feed them.”
He also expressed concern about homeless veterans, especially now that the weather has turned colder.
“You can drive around Rocky Mount and see a boarded-up house and see a flicker of light where someone, at times a veteran, is doing what they can do to survive. They put their lives on the line for their country and deserve better than they are getting,” Williams said.
“The homeless — all homeless — are subject to drugs and violence just to try and keep their heads above water,” he said. “A drug dealer will spot them and put them in a position where they will steal for a warm place to lay their head.
“If (veterans) believe the military owes them money or if they need help with the VA, we will help them file their claim.”