2019 Savannah-Area Veterans’ Forum

This morning (5-13-19), the Armstrong Center was the site for Congressman Buddy Carter’s annual opportunity for our military veterans to get their questions and concerns answered, which most generally have to do with Veterans’ Administration issues.

The attendance was strong, with over 175 veterans there, including even one 95-year-old Army veteran of World War II.  There to respond to their questions were four knowledgeable VA experts from three Georgia offices and one representative from the VA in Charleston.  As they entered the forum room, attendees were asked to fill our index cards with any questions they might like to ask the experts.  To keep the time realistic, a selection of those questions were posed to the VA panelists.  Those present with individual issues were assured that the VA representatives (including a separate staffed Savannah VA facility table) would be available after the formal proceedings to respond to veterans’ needs.

The questions of concern for most or many of the attendees went from an explanation of the relatively-new RAMP Program, to concerns about the CHOICE Program not working well in Savannah, to service-related treatments while awaiting CMP results, to rumors about VA benefits being cut (the panel responded that, to their knowledge, no cuts were coming), to a question about the status of the Camp Lejeune water issue from back in the 1960’s.  All of these selected questions were answered fully and with genuine concern by the panelists.  And as promised, the panelists did remain after the formal session to speak with veterans voicing individual problems. At the close of the formal program, Vietnam veteran Craig Johnson came forward to read  his personal message of thanks to the VA for the caring they had shown him, expressing his sincere gratitude.

Along with the VA representatives, a great many local veteran service organizations had set up individual displays, with a wide array of informational handouts, and organization members there to explain opportunities and services offered for our veterans.  Among them, the Army’s “Soldier For Life” initiative, with a representative on hand from both Hunter and Fort Stewart, explaining the Army’s commitment to both the about-to-be-discharged soldiers, Army veterans from distant-past conflicts, and every former soldier in-between, as in the program’s title, Soldier For Life!

Prior to Congressman Carter’s brief remarks at the outset, to include thanking those in the audience who had served our nation, the nation’s colors were presented and the National Anthem was sung beautifully, as always, by treasured Savannahian, Roger Moss.

It was a solid morning of opportunity for this large turn-out of our great veterans to have their individual concerns, if they had any, listened-to (and responded to), face-to-face, with VA and Congressman Carter’s staff, the very folks who can make solutions happen.