Lyon College hosts fair to benefit local veterans

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – President Obama plans to end combat operations in Afghanistan next year.

That means thousands of soldiers will return to civilian life. The transition could be difficult, so one local college is assisting those who served their country.

Lyon College hosted a veterans resource fair this weekend, providing one-stop shopping for a number of beneficial services.

Representatives from numerous veterans organizations set up booths inside Lyon's Becknell Gymnasium. Local veterans could receive information about everything from medical care to education.

Phil Huss, a U.S. Navy veteran, ventured to campus for the fair despite some initial skepticism.

"It blew me away when the girl came in with flyers down at the VFW that this was coming," Huss said. "I thought, nah, I ain't going to go. It'll be a waste of time.

"Well, I don't feel that being here today has been a waste of time."

Huss' trip actually proved productive. The Vietnam veteran found out he is eligible for a benefit to assist his wife, who has cared for him while he has battled cancer.

The benefit is one he had no idea existed until Saturday.

"We can help our brother vets by telling them that didn't come to this about benefit that they may be entitled to," Huss said, "because there's guys that are entitled that don't want to file for their benefits because they feel like they're getting a handout."

The event is the first of its kind in the area, and Lyon College intends to hold resource fairs for veterans at least twice a year.

"The last thing you want is somebody who has come back from overseas having to go through a bunch of red tape having to go to 20 different locations to get, really, the services and the support that they're entitled to having served their country," said Josh Manning, the college's director of enrollment services.

"If we have one veteran show up who doesn't know about a service that we can provide as taxpayers," Manning added, "that'll be a success, and that one veteran hopefully will go and tell five or six others and the next time we do this we'll have more people. We want it to snowball from here."

The college should deem this inaugural fair a success then because Huss has a message for other veterans.

"I suggest they take the time and make the effort to go to it because from what I see," Huss said, "they are trying to be helpful…It's helped me."

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