(Dubois, WY) – A Veterans Service Fair was held on Saturday, May 27 at the National Museum of Military Vehicles (NMMV) in Dubois, which featured over 50 organizations, the goal of which was to provide information and resources on a variety of topics important to veterans, including education and employment, healthcare, housing, financial help, mental health and wellness, and Veterans’ benefits.
Over 500 veterans, families and organization members were estimated to be in attendance at the event-filled day, which began at 7:45 A.M. with a flag raising ceremony conducted by local Veteran Wade LeBeau and a performance by the Big Wind Singers from Crowheart.
The Big Wind Singers performed Shoshone Flag Song, Honor Song, and Soldier Boy, which can all be viewed below.
After the opening ceremony, attendees made their way into the Poolaw Building and had time to grab some breakfast in the NMMV mess hall, the Canteen, where lunch was also later served following the early afternoon speakers and events.
During this time folks also had the opportunity to visit the many Veteran groups and organizations in attendance.
Wyoming Veterans Commission Executive Director Tim Sheppard introduced the first official speaker of the day, Governor Mark Gordon, which followed the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America performed by Presley Bray (daughter of Todd Bray, one of the Veterans honored later in the day).
Governor Gordon’s address was followed by a speech from Distinguished Service Cross recipient and Wheatland, WY native Lee Alley, a Vietnam Veteran and combat Reconnaissance Platoon Leader 1st Lieutenant who is recognized as “one of the most decorated soldiers ever to come out of the state of Wyoming.”
Alley shared harrowing accounts of what it was like to serve in Vietnam, then return to a country that reserved harsh treatment and judgment for Vietnam Veterans, all while stressing the importance of events like these that connect Veterans with other Veterans who went through similar experiences.
“So here we are Veterans. Veterans talking to Veterans. You in this room have the opportunity to change lives, not by what you’re going to say with your grand wisdom, but by listening, and asking the questions,” Alley later concluded.
The final speaker was Conrad Washington, who retired from the United States Marine Corps with 20 years of active duty service and now serves as the Director for the VA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CFBNP).
To learn more about the CFBNP, click here.
The Veterans Talking to Veterans coach graduation and Purple Heart Museum proclamation then wrapped up the pre-lunch events.
To read/see more about the Veterans Talking to Veterans graduation, click here.
To read/see more about the Purple Heart Museum proclamation, click here.
After the lunch break and early afternoon events, WyomingPBS premiered an episode of its “State of Mind” series that focused on veterans’ mental health, which was followed by a guided panel discussion from Emmy-Winning American independent filmmaker Mat Hames. (County 10 was unable to attend this portion of the day.)
“We are excited to host this initiative to support our veterans,” said Dan Starks, Founder and Chairman of the NMMV said of the event. “This program aligns perfectly with our commitment to make every day Veterans Day at the museum.”