The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council is opening the new calendar year with some ambitious plans, which includes two new members, substantial donations, a bigger and better golf tournament, …
The Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council is opening the new calendar year with some ambitious plans, which includes two new members, substantial donations, a bigger and better golf tournament, and more.
The council met last Thursday evening at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce offices, with more than 30 in attendance.
Several visitors represented the Antique Tractor Club, and Club President Jim Seitz presented council chairman Kim Dees with a $500 donation.
"We support veterans, St. Jude's, and now the Veterans Home Council," said Seitz in the brief presentation.
This donation, and some memorial gifts in memory of former council members Joe Davis and Cid Heidel, both of whom passed away recently, have lifted the council's fund balance to more than $300,000.
These funds will be used to provide the state veterans home with incidental needs, once construction is completed in mid-2021. How these funds will be spent will be determined in the meantime.
The state's fifth veterans home, a $47 million project supported through local, state and federal funds, is being constructed on Westland Drive in South Cleveland. Dirt is being moved, and actual construction will begin in the near future.
Securing the funding, and reaching the groundbreaking last August, was more than a 16-year journey. Much of that effort was pushed by the SETVHC and its members.
Thursday's meeting was the first for a new slate of officers, which includes Dees as chairman, Vice Chairman Richard Heinl, Secretary Alvin Howard and Treasurer Betsy Trimble.
Among the agenda items Thursday were final preparations for a road trip on Monday to the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Clarksville, the state's fourth facility. The other three veterans homes are in Murfreesboro, Humboldt and Knoxville. A sixth veterans home is planned for Arlington, but funding has yet to be secured.
The Clarksville trip will be for the 10 council members to explore what might be needed following the construction phase. They were returning Monday, and will to share this information with other Council members, veterans home supporters and the general public at Thursday's Golf Committee meeting.
Ed Harries, director of the Tennessee Veterans Home Board and members of his staff, joined the 10 council members for Monday's tour in Clarksville.
Harries is also expected to attend the next SETVHC meeting in Cleveland, tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at the Chamber offices.
Council members will also share information from the Clarksville trip at next Thursday's 3:30 p.m. Golf Committee meeting at the Chamber. Some preliminary ideas have already been discussed.
Bradley County Veterans Affairs Officer Brian Huesterberg gave a brief report Thursday evening, and emphasized the growing importance of the facility being constructed in Cleveland, and the need for veterans facilities statewide.
"The waiting list at the Knoxville Veterans Home is at 600," Huesterberg informed council members.
It is also common knowledge that there are around 50,000 veterans in Southeast Tennessee, and the waiting list in Murfreesboro is even greater than at Knoxville..
There was also a positive report from Heinl who doubles as the council's new Golf Committee chairman replacing at-large board member Janet Allen. Allen remains active and is able to assist.
The former chair said there are already two new major sponsors for the 2020 golf tournament, which is the council's major fundraiser each year. There were additional commitments from some visitors at Thursday's meeting.
Two new membership applications were approved with little discussion.
One was for Huesterberg and Cheri Nations of the Bradley County Veterans Services Office, and the second for AmVets Post 911 in Polk County.
Polk County Veterans Services Officer Tim Woody, and Post 911 Commander Steve Norwood, attended the meeting. Both are state AmVet officers, in addition to their Polk County and regional duties.
Norwood also announced that the Tennessee AmVets have obtained legislative approval for an AmVets license plate.
He said veterans, as well as civilians, can purchase these special plates at a cost of $35. Two dollars from this fee will go to Tennessee veterans homes.
Dees said the Council has mailed letters to veteran organizations throughout the seven-county area in Southeast Tennessee, explaining the criteria for membership to the council.
Nicole Moorshead of J&S Restaurants (Hardee's in Cleveland and throughout the region) was at Thursday's meeting to invite council members and others to this year's Veterans Appreciation event by the corporation.
The event, and a sizable donation to veterans, is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day), at the Hardee's restaurant on 25th Street in Cleveland.
"Hardee's has been a longtime supporter of veterans and the Veterans Home Council," emphasized Dees.
In another announcement, Allen informed the council that the annual mini-Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic is scheduled for Friday, March 13, at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church in Cleveland.
The clinic is held every two years by the church's Parish Health Ministry.
Allen emphasized the clinic provides free vision, dental and medical services to those in need, including veterans.
The mini-clinic fills a need between major RAM clinics held in Cleveland by the national RAM organization, headquartered in Rockford, a small municipality in Blount County. These RAM clinics are scheduled every two years.
The big RAM clinic was at Cleveland High School last year, and thousands received free services. There will be hundreds at March's mini-clinic, with many volunteers participating, including health professionals.
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