Welcome home ceremony honors veterans

Saturday, November 1, 2008 | 7:08 p.m. CDT; updated 10:05 p.m. CDT, Saturday, November 1, 2008

COLUMBIA — Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were honored in a welcome home ceremony Saturday at Truman Veterans Hospital.

More than 1,500 veterans were invited to the event. Twelve to 15 veterans from the two operations attended, although there were also veterans present from other wars, said Stephen Gaither, the hospital's spokesman.

Sgt. Carl Poore said he had hoped there would be more veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq operations.

"I really wanted to speak to them," Poore said. "I really just enjoy the company of other soldiers. I think if more people knew about it, more would show up."

The annual event serves to acknowledge the service of veterans and make sure they know about the benefits and services available to them. The hospital had arranged for 28 organizations to give information to veterans.

"Anything you want to know, you can find out here. It is an extremely useful event," Poore said.

Sgt. Rodney Blackwell said the ceremony was a good way for veterans to see what's available to them.

"I liked getting to talk to other veterans and hearing stories," Blackwell said. "I'd definitely come back next year but probably bring my family.

Blackwell said the event offers information that could be beneficial to his wife and children.

"It would be a way for her to ask questions that concern her that I don't know about," he said.

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