Jacksonville Mall salutes veterans

13 Nov 2008 | Cpl. Melissa L. McCoy

The Jacksonville mall celebrated Veteran’s Day with a different type of one stop shopping for local military personnel, Nov. 1.

Fifteen area veterans’ and armed forces organizations joined each other at center court for Salute to the Veterans, which included festivities and an informational fair to educate local residents on the benefits offered not only to those in the military, but the civilian population as well.

“This is a military community,” said Paul Siverson, chairman of the Non Commissioned Officers Association of the United States of America.  “We’re here to support the veterans of Onslow County.  This is a military community so whether you’ve served or not everyone supports the veterans.  This gives us the opportunity to let people know what we have to offers vets and the community.”

Everyone has a story to tell and this was just one of the ways that veterans could share their stories with the younger population and each other said Siverson.

“This is a great chance to let the community know the USO,” said Tammy Price, Jacksonville USO acting director.  “I’ve noticed a lot of the older guys are the ones who take care of the USO, so we’re trying to get the word out to the younger guys about all the services we have to offer.”

While many residents know these programs and organizations are out there, they are often unsure of what exactly they do, how they can participate and join.

“Our organization is open to all women Marines,” said Joan Maria Blanco Cordero of the Women Marines Association.  “You don’t have to be active duty to join.  You can be retired or a veteran, even if you only served a short time in the Marine Corps, you’re welcome here.”

Veterans and their families got some much needed information and were reminded of something that here in Jacksonville is often forgotten.

 “In a military town, we have a tendency to take for granted that everyone has been touched by the reality of war,” said Debora Yashinski a member of the Gold Star Mothers, who came out to join in the festivities and show her support for the military.  “This is a great opportunity for a bridge to be built so Jacksonville never forgets that.”

At the end of the day, stories were shared and tears were shed but everyone walked away with the knowledge that in this community there are organizations out there to help, love and support them.