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HomeBusiness & CommunityVeterans Resource Fair Headlines Tony Orlando; Provides ‘One-Stop Shopping’ for Veterans

Veterans Resource Fair Headlines Tony Orlando; Provides ‘One-Stop Shopping’ for Veterans

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Each year, Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) hosts his annual Veterans Resource Fair, an event at which area veterans are treated like superstars. And this year, a world-renowned superstar will be joining him to speak and perform at this gala event.

Legendary singer and performer Tony Orlando will join the Congressman in hosting the fair, scheduled to take place at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, 13400 Elgin Blvd., Spring Hill, Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. This free event will empower local Veterans and their families to learn more about the benefits and opportunities currently available to them in this community, in areas and categories such as Veterans claims services, healthcare, education benefits, alternative therapies, employment opportunities, housing programs, social services, and more.

“Throughout my tenure in Congress, I’ve made advocating for Veterans and their families a top priority,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis. “Each year, through the Veterans Resource Fair, we help link Veterans in need with available services provided through government agencies and non-profit organizations. My casework team will also be on hand to help Veterans who are experiencing difficulty with a federal agency.”

Summer Blevins, deputy chief of staff for the Office of Congressman Gus Bilirakis, says that the Veterans Resource Fair is a well-attended annual event that offers a plethora of information and resources of value to vets.

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“We usually get several hundred Veterans who come out. The Congressman has held it every year since 2007,” said Blevins. “It provides one-stop shopping for participating Veterans. They can get connected with services that are available throughout the community.”

At this happening, vets learn about the countless services available to those who served their country.
“We will have a wide array of services from government entities and nonprofits that serve Veterans,” said Blevins.

Some of the more than 75 community partners represented at the resource fair include VFWs, American Legions, the VA (all different types of services – mental health, VA whole health (chiropractic and acupuncture, etc), burial benefits, the FDVA (Veterans nursing home, legal services, etc), Area Agency on Aging (programs to provide support for Veterans to stay in their homes with assistance), United Way, Service Dog Therapy Providers, Honor Flight Program, Financial Planners who specialize in working with Veterans, VITA free tax preparation services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, job placement services, education providers, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and alternative therapy providers.

“These are just a sampling. We also have our caseworkers in case a Veteran is having problems with a federal agency,” said Blevins. “And the Congressman will be there too for Vets who want to speak directly with him about their ideas for legislation.”

Also in attendance will be special guest and Veteran advocate Tony Orlando. A Grammy-nominated artist with 15 Top 40 hits (including five no. 1 hits), two Platinum albums, three Gold albums, and millions of copies sold, his signature song “Tie A Yellow Ribbon,” the #1 Billboard Song of the Year for 1973, has through the years established a stalwart reputation as a true veterans’ anthem. Orlando himself has acquired a stalwart reputation as the recipient of two American Music Awards and a People’s Choice Award for Best Male Entertainer. He is the 2016 recipient of the Casino Entertainer Of The Year award and the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society.
“Tony will be speaking and singing,” said Blevins. “He has come for two prior Veteran Resource Fairs and the Veterans really seemed to enjoy him.”

Light refreshments will be provided at the Veterans Resource Fair, where participating vets just may find the key to a new future–all wrapped up in a shiny yellow ribbon!

“The Congressman’s goal is to be a conduit and provide a chance for Veterans to learn about the services available to help them with whatever type of issue they’re facing. In the past, we have had a diverse group of Veterans (ranging from those who are just transitioning out of service – to WWII survivors),” said Blevins. “The feedback we consistently receive is that the vast majority of those who participate feel it is useful.”

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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