Lock Haven University hosted the 3rd annual Veterans’ Benefits Expo on Thursday, November 9, in the Student Recreation Center with more 33 participating exhibitors in attendance.
More than 140 students, family members and community members attended the event, as well as 50 area veterans. Attendees created a total of 177 thank you and Christmas cards that will be distributed to local veterans.
Ally Spielman, a senior recreation management major at LHU, was working at the event but took a break to make a card for a veteran. Spielman said the event helps to create awareness around what the veterans face following their service. “The event helps them (veterans) get the resources available to them in the community. Older adults, if they don’t have internet access, can come out and see what’s available.”
Spielman also noted the networking opportunities that the event provides for the veterans to be able to talk with others who care and can help.
The LHU physician assistant program also served as an exhibitor, offering free glucose and blood pressure screenings to attendees. Alexis Palfey, a first year student in the program, was glad to be a part of the event. “It’s refreshing for us to be out of the classroom and to provide a service to the veterans,” she said. “It reminds us to be thankful for what they’ve done for us and it’s our way of giving back to them.”
Horses of Hope, an organization that provides therapeutic riding programs and activities to the community, also was on hand during the event promoting their Heroes and Horses program. Kim Roush, instructor and Wade Swinehart and Jeff Geyer, program participants, talked with attendees about the opportunities the program provides to veterans.
“You get a relationship with a horse and you can sit there and talk to it like it’s your best friend,” Swinehart said. “You get a real connection.” Swinehart has been a participant in the program for three years.
Geyer, a two-year participant, said he enjoys the bonding time with the horses. “You’re not judged or picked on for who you are. They’re your friend. Some (horses) are better than people,” he said. “They make a lot of (bad) things go away.”
Members of Girl Scout Troop 40164 from Lock Haven handed out thank you cards to veterans and gave a reading for a POW MIA ceremony. The Troop set up a small round table with a single place setting, representing and honoring a missing soldier.
“The girls created thank you cards for the veterans. They used red paint to make poppies with their thumb prints,” Brianna Ulrich, Troop leader, said. She also noted the girls have been learning about the importance of ceremonies and somber issues like the POW MIA ceremony.
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Lock Haven University is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
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