By TERRI HARBER
All area military veterans, their families and, especially, their surviving spouses, are invited to attend an outreach event highlighting benefits available to them.
The Veterans Benefits Event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Baker County Fairgrounds Conference and Event Center, 2600 East St., in Baker City.
The center is the former National Guard armory, just east of the current armory.
Jane Chandler, Baker County's veterans services officer, has been planning this one-stop outreach event for months.
Other hosts are Operation Enduring Support and the Oregon National Guard Joint Transition Assistance Program.
Those invited to provide information include "everyone who could help a veteran," Jane Chandler said. "I asked everyone I could think of."
An array of veterans groups, financial institutions, health care providers, education and vocational training outlets, state employment officials, and those who provide help with substance abuse issues are expected to attend.
This day isn't strictly for new veterans from the local National Guard unit who recently served in Iraq, though they are urged to attend and speak to a reintegration specialist as well as any other representatives on hand.
Those who served their country during earlier conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II, also may need help obtaining benefits, Chandler said.
Some of the veterans living here are in their 20s and 30s, while others are long past retirement age. This is why Chandler sought to provide a wide-ranging outreach opportunity because the needs of area veterans are so diverse, she said.
Some might need assistance with housing, home loans or education. Others might be seeking help in obtaining medical or mental health care. Some may be looking for a job.
Needs sometimes are highly specific or immediate: Veterans might be having trouble accessing certain benefits or require transportation to reach out-of-town locations that offer services.
Some might just desire camaraderie.
Chandler estimates there are 3,000 military veterans in the area.
Saturday's event is meant to "provide Baker County veterans and their dependents - past, present and future - this opportunity to meet, obtain information and get assistance from a variety of supportive service providers," Chandler said.
There will be light refreshments.
Chandler's office is in the Baker County Courthouse, 1995 Third St. The office is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays are by appointment because it's a day spent mostly on home appointments and other outreach efforts, she said.
Call Chandler for details about Saturday's event or what's available from her office anytime at 541-523-8223.