A "first-ever anywhere" Veterans Outreach Day will be held in Joliet Saturday to connect vets and their families directly to services they need, organizers said.
Sponsored by Cantigny VFW Post 367, the event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 826 Horseshoe Drive post.
It's meant to go beyond just offering advice and link former and reserve veterans with immediate benefits claim filing help, job assistance, bereavement and post-traumatic stress disorder counseling, emergency financing for such things as utility bills, and other services, spokeswoman Denise Meehan said.
"This event is wholly unique in that we've been able to bring service providers who will actually provide services, not just information, to the veteran community," Meehan said.
"The VA is coming out with their mobile health center, (and will be) able to provide health screenings and claim filing assistance -- two benefits to the veteran community that are priceless given the case backlog at the VA right now."
The Vet Center assists veterans from all wars, and while it's funded by the Veterans Administration, it does not report to any government agency and keeps all information confidential, she said.
The Will County Veterans Assistance Commission, which Meehan calls the best-kept secret in the area, will be available to offer financial assistance to vets who need emergency help with bills.
Another highlight will be the display of the Illinois Patriot Guard's Illinois Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial Wall, which is worth seeing regardless of whether you're a vet or not, Meehan said. It's sponsored by the Gold-Star Mothers and Fathers, who have lost a child in war.
"If you've never seen this display, it is the most moving and memorable tribute that you can imagine," she said. "Every face and name of the Illinois fallen are on that wall."
The post will also be providing free hot dogs, while supplies last, and raffling off two tickets to a concert by country music star Tim McGraw, who will be at the First Midwest Amphitheatre in Tinley Park on May 24.