Columbia car show supports veterans
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Vet Center and the Harry S. Truman VA Hospital held a car show Saturday to reach out to veterans.
Mark Johnson, the outreach coordinator for the Columbia Vet Center who served in the Marines for 21 years, helped start the event 5 years ago.
"We actually created this event, so it’s like a safe place for veterans to come out, enjoy the day and show their cars out, and just enjoy the day with their families and their comrades," he said.
Johnson said the purpose of the car show is to reach out to veterans and make them feel comfortable.
"At an event like this, I tell a veteran, come in take your shoes off, let your hair down, don’t take your socks off. Just come in and have fun and relax," he said.
Johnson said there are nearly 75,000 veterans in mid-Missouri.
Marvin Bethall is one of them. He said he was stationed in Germany during World War II at age 18.
"When I overseas in the Army, I drove one of these Army Jeeps, so when I came back, I had to have one," he said, sitting in the cab of his green 1946 Willy's Jeep.
Benthall said he is older than any of the cars displayed at the show.
To show off their vehicles, owners could donate $10, but they were not required to. Johnson said the event was more of a community outreach event than a fundraiser.
"Whatever they’re going through that day, they can just come and enjoy the car show," Johnson said. "We’re just here to help them out, get them over the hump, whatever they need."
Benthall said when he needs medical care, he goes to the VA.
"The VA does a first-class job of taking care of you. I go there any time I need whatever. and they give it to me no charge for nothing," he said.
He said he appreciates when people donate to help veterans.
"Any time that you donate to the veterans, you’re helping the country," he said.
Johnson said it is important to remember veterans.
"In a war zone, you don’t leave a marine behind. You don’t leave a sailor behind, a soldier behind, so once they get out, why would you leave a veteran behind? It's the same thing," he said.
Johnson said the car show will continue for years to come.