The Ashley County Veterans Service will host a Veterans Day ceremony next week and is planning other events and efforts to reach out to local veterans.

The ACVS is in place to be an advocate for veterans in the county and representatives say they are actively trying to make veterans more aware of the services they offer.  Cheryl Bailey with the ACVS says that awareness is growing, but it could improve.

Bailey says she doesn’t think that all veterans or their families are truly aware of the service offered here in Ashley County, and she and Ashley County Veteran’s Service Officer Brandy Dye are working to change that. According to Dye, the Ashley County office doubled their numbers of new veterans in both 2017 and 2018.

“Honestly, it is growing in part to the tremendous attention and support we get from our local newspaper,” Cheryl Bailey said. “I don’t think it is where it could be or hopefully where it will be in this next year, but we are growing.”

Bailey also credits the growth of the program to the county judge.

“We have great support from our county judge, Jim Hudson when it comes to veterans and anything to recognize or honor them,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the office held its first ever Veteran’s Fair in August to raise awareness and promote the office and the services offered.

“We had a great turn out in August for the Veterans Fair in Hamburg, and this next year we plan to have it in Crossett to alternate towns,” Bailey said.

Bailey also said they have plans to set something up in other parts of the county as well.

“We would like to set something up in the delta area towns just to draw attention to the Veterans Office but our main goal is to reach out to veterans who may not be able or have means to come to the office; we would like get those veterans in that area in our database,” Bailey said.

Bailey says she and Dye have made it their mission to know just how many veterans are in our county.

“Not just for numbers but so we know who they are,” Bailey said.

The services that the ACVS offer are expanding as well. Dye says that in 2019, she will be able to log into the actual VA system to see claims, claim status, award letters for tax purposes, notification letters, statement of benefits, VA record, compensation and pension, DD-214 and all other forms that are necessary when applying or looking into veterans’ benefits or what veterans qualify for.

Bailey says the new system will make the Ashley County office better equipped to assist veterans in getting the services and support they deserve and have earned.

According to Bailey’s experience in the Ashley County office over the last four years, medical and healthcare is the most sought after service followed by compensation and pension claims.

“We are seeing a few come through requesting information on educational benefits for their children,” Bailey said.

Bailey says that some services only apply to a select few but she encourages all veterans to ask if they aren’t sure what is available to them.  

In an effort to get the information out there, the office will continue to host fairs and do their best to reach out, but they are asking for the public’s help as well.

“Everyone knows at least one veteran; we ask that they please make sure, that if nothing else, that the veterans know of the Ashley County Veterans Office,” Bailey said.

Veterans who may not be in need of any services now, still may carry their DD214 forms to simply be put in the system for a later date.

“If you are a veteran or know one, please call and let us know to add you to our database,” Bailey said.

Bailey said they stress to people that these Veterans Services are earned.

“We want them to know that these services are not handouts, and we would like to thank each and every veteran we have in our county and we hope to meet and get to know each one,” Bailey said. “Our goal is to help them and their families.”

Dye and Bailey are already working together to plan next year’s Veteran’s Fair and hope to see the support of local businesses.

“Anyone or business that would like to donate anything for any of our services would be great and we can use anything from décor to catering and all in between,” Bailey said.

Bailey is also currently building a database of local businesses to make a brochure that details all of the discounts or other offerings that businesses in the area offer to veterans. 

Dye says in addition to the Veteran’s Fairs they are also planning to continue their annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. 

Bailey and Dye would also like to reach out to anyone interested in helping with any part of the Memorial Day or Veterans Day program.

“We really appreciate any support from the community and the local businesses,” Bailey said.

The ACVS office hours are Monday through Wednesday 8 am - 4:30 pm. The office is located in the annex building at the courthouse in Hamburg next door to the revenue office and they can be reached by phone at 870-853-2040.

“If you have questions, or wonder, just call or come by and ask. Our goal and purpose is to honor and take care of the veterans in our county,” Bailey said.

This year’s Veterans Day ceremony is scheduled for Monday Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. There is a Veterans Day parade scheduled for 10 a.m. around the square. The parade is sponsored by HHS East program.