OSCODA — A new veterans coffee hour is designed to help bring area veterans together, according to Ronald Whitney, the accredited veterans service officer for Iosco County Veterans Services.
The monthly coffee hours will take place at the Wurtsmith Air Museum in Oscoda from 9-10 a.m. beginning Thursday, May 23 and then every month on the fourth Thursday at the location until September’s coffee hour.
From there, Whitney said a new location will be found because the museum will be closed for the season. He said the event is open to veterans from any service branch, male or female and of any age group.
“The coffee hour is for camaraderie, so veterans can get together and discuss military talk, if you will, and discuss military benefits with each other,” he said “I’ll be there as a veterans’ service officer if there are any questions on benefits.”
The coffee hour is not only sponsored by museum spokespeople, but also from the Iosco County Veterans Affairs office, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and the Northern Michigan Veterans Coalition.
Whitney said one of the reasons to have the coffee hour is to promote the veterans office, which he said has been there for years but many area veterans have not known about. He said another reason to have it is to connect veterans.
“The big thing is when veterans get out, brothers and sisters in the military, we lose track of who is where, it brings the brotherhood and sisterhood back together,” he said. “A veteran can talk to another veteran about their issues.”
He said veterans affairs office officials approached the museum as a possible place to have the veterans coffee hour.
“We are looking for a place to host the coffee hour and they volunteered the museum so it would work hand in hand with the office,” he said. “The coffee hour will it also emphasize the availability of the museum, to show veterans it is here, it’s kind of a low key item, because a lot of military people are not even aware of it being in Oscoda.”
That is not the only news coming from the veterans affairs office. Whitney said in June the office will be hosting the first ever Veterans Benefits Fair with the northern Michigan Veterans Coalition.
The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rushman Hall (the old Knights of Columbus Hall on Newman Street in East Tawas) on June 21 and feature vendors from state agencies and other groups that can help provide services for veterans, said Whitney.
“In a nutshell the fair is going to have upwards of 40 vendors to discuss benefits they have for military personnel and families,” he said. “A veteran can talk to a bank that might be there. My number one reason to do it is to show the veterans what is available for benefits, what businesses do offer benefits to the military and to also kind of let them intermingle.”
He said the show is open to the public so they can share information with veterans. Whitney said there are some surprising benefits that veterans may not know about.
“One thing that is out there — and I’ll use big box stores as an example — is that veterans can get up to a 10 percent discount at some places,” he said.
More information, including a vendor listing, will be made available closer to the event.