The Inaugural Vet Fest was held on the weekend of October 14th and 15th at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10209 next to Anderson Snow Park. The event was put on by Veterans of Foreign Wars 10209 Post and 10209 Auxiliary and Weeki Wachee Area Club.
John Coleman spoke about the origins of the event. A group was discussing ways to highlight the services that are available for veterans in Hernando County. John Coleman has lived his entire life in Hernando County except when he served in the military and knows about the difficulty of learning what services were available to veterans firsthand. When he returned from serving his country, he had to learn how to access the benefits he had earned. They came up with the idea of Vet Fest, which brings in organizations that support veterans together with bands, vendors, and food trucks in a family-friendly environment.
One local resource in attendance was the Hernando County Veteran Services Department. They are able to assist with
• CHAMPVA application
• VA Claims
• Certificate of Eligibility for VA Home Loan
• Discharge Upgrades
• Transportation to Tampa VA Hospital for medical appointments only. Call Trans-Hernando 352-799-1510
The Veteran Services Department can also assist with claims for:
• Adaptive equipment/ housing / grant application
• Automobile grant application
• Appeals and Reopen Claims
• Burial Reimbursement
• Clothing Allowance
• Compensation Claims
• Dependent Addition/Removal
• Penson (War Time Veterans)
• Vocational Rehabilitation
• Survivor Benefits/ Pension * Call for Eligibility
Hernando County Veteran Services Department is located at 621 W. Jefferson St in Brooksville. Their phone number is 352-754-4726.
The vendors sold a wide variety of items, including crocheted stuffies, homemade jams and jellies, tumblers, and other items you would expect at a fest. There were several food trucks, including Smokin’ Oak Wood-Fired Pizza, which made a breakfast pizza for the first time at the event, which was covered with sausage, gravy, and bacon. It was a real crowd-pleaser.
Some of the attendees were drawn by the live bands, including Crossfire Creek. There was a tractor-trailer stage on which the bands performed, with seating for those who wanted to watch the band.
Approximately 60 motorcycle riders from American Legion District 6 stopped by the Veterans Fest on Saturday. District 6 is made up of several posts across Central Florida. According to Anita, District 6 Road Captain, they were on their Unity Ride for Agent Orange Awareness. The riders’ registration fees went to child programs to provide food, clothing, toys, etc.
The two-day event was a success, according to the organizers. They are planning to make it an annual event. There were many opportunities for veterans to learn about services that are there to support them.