More than 1,000 veterans attend resource fair

benw@ledger-enquirer.comApril 26, 2014 

Keiyon Carpenter has no visible scars on his body from serving in Iraq, but he admits to coping with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

"I just live life," said Carpenter, who lives in Miami but has a son in Columbus. "I was not physically injured over there but mentally I'm 100 percent disabled.'

More than 1,000 veterans filled the Columbus Convention & Trade Center Saturday for the Seventh Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down and Veterans Resource Fair. Men and women veterans were treated to free health screenings, haircuts, free food, entertainment and access to information on child support, employment services, housing and other needs.

Carpenter, who was deployed a total of 27 months to Iraq with the 608th Ordnance Company, 36 Engineer Group at Fort Benning and the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, was seeking information on housing.

"To help cope with problems, a lot of people don't take advantage of the programs," he said. "You got to go and help yourself in order to get the help that you want. I went in and helped myself. Everything is cool."

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Marie Hudson of Seale, Ala., said she was able to learn more about benefits and services for women at the fair.

"You may not know things but you can benefit somebody else by sharing," said Hudson, who served in public health for more than 22 years.

Alice Harrison, chief operating officer of the nonprofit organization the South Atlantic Center for Veterans Education and Training, said she's pleased with the number of veterans who attended the event. She said 500 veterans registered for the Stand Down.

The next event will be held in April 2015.

Harrison hopes to do more to provide housing for homeless veterans.

"We are going to try and get more vouchers for the veterans," she said.

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