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Outreach event planned for veterans

| October 20, 2014

COSHOCTON – The Coshocton County Veterans Service Commission is trying to reach out to area veterans and help them with a variety of problems or issues they may be experiencing.

The Veterans Outreach Event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the American Legion Post 65 at 652 Main St.

“We are trying to target veterans who are homeless, unemployed or underemployed and give them a one stop shop for services,” said Jim Barstow, veterans’ service officer. “We appreciate the Legion and Commander Willie Arnold for stepping up and offering their facility for this.”

Veterans of all ages and dependents and widows of veterans are encouraged to attend this free event and learn more about possible benefits available to them.

The Columbus VA Mobile Health Unit will be in town for its quarterly visit to Coshocton and the VA Mobile Veterans Center from Canton will offer counseling-type services. There also will be people at the event to discuss legal issues with, housing and transportation needs, education and employment issues, veterans’ benefits in general, dental care and much more.

The Blue Star Mothers Chapter OH 59 will provide a free hot meal to veterans and vouchers for winter clothing. Four Paws also will help with winter clothing needs.

“We want to make a dent in the homeless population of Coshocton County and open as many doors for them as we can,” Barstow said. “Homelessness is more of a problem here than people know and the definition of homeless is broader than people think. It’s not just the stereotypical image of someone living in a cardboard box under a bridge. It’s an individual who doesn’t have a fixed, permanent residence. It could be a veteran who lives with their parents or relies on family and friends for a roof over their head. We encourage people who might know of someone like this to have them come down and talk to us so we can let them know about services available to them.”

Coshocton is blessed to have the Second Chance Homeless Shelter and Barstow said there are other shelters in Columbus, Akron and Kent that veterans have been referred to. However, his office now has a partnership with Licking and Knox counties to send veterans to a shelter in Licking County.

“A lot of people who are homeless don’t want to be 80 miles away from friends and family,” Barstow said. “Licking County is making that possible for us to do that for them.”

He also is appreciative of the fact that Mark Pellegrino, the veteran representative for Coshocton County Job and Family Services, is coming to the event.

Pellegrino is typically at the local JFS office on Fridays and can help veterans find out about employment and education benefits. He also can help them tweak their resume for specific jobs.

“When we first planned this event, we thought it would be more of a job fair, but then we found out JFS was doing their big event on Oct. 23 at Lake Park Pavilion,” Barstow said. “We will still have some employers, but we’d like to encourage veterans to go to the JFS job fair and then come to ours to see what extra we can do to help them get the job they are interested in.”

Ohio Means Jobs – Coshocton County, a division of Coshocton County Job & Family Services, will hold its Employment Exposition from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at Lake Park Pavilion. Employers that are currently hiring or who are planning to hire within the next few months will be prepared to accept applications or engage job seekers with on the spot interviews.

“Last I heard there will be 40 people at that job fair and we really hope our veterans take advantage of that as well,” Barstow said.

He also hopes veterans who are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will take the time to speak with a local counselor who is considering starting up a support group.

“She is a trained certified counselor and also is a veteran,” Barstow said. “She is getting close to retiring and would like to start a PTSD counseling group. There was one is Zanesville, but it got disbanded. I’d like to renew that effort here locally.”

Anyone with questions about veterans’ benefits or the event is welcome to call the Veterans Service Office at 622-2313.

“There will be a wide range of organizations and individuals reaching out to veterans at this event,” Barstow said. “If you served during war or peace, you are considered a veteran and there are possibly benefits out there for you. The last time the state did a count, there were 3,088 veterans in Coshocton County. We believe there are a lot more out there and this is a chance for them to stand up and be counted.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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