Related Story

COLUMBIA - Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital hosted its annual fall festival Thursday.

“Our primary purpose, of course, is to provide a full range of quality healthcare services to eligible veterans,” Stephen Gaither, Truman VA spokesperson and Air Force veteran, said.

For the first time in the festival’s history, Truman VA also had a veterans’ benefits fair. Director David Isaacks, a Marines veteran, said one of the fair’s goals was to educate military veterans on their benefits.

“Really understanding what those benefits are and how to really use those is really one of the challenges we constantly try to work on,” Isaacks said. "Especially to the newest service members that are coming out of the military.”

In addition to connecting with those who recently completed duty, Truman VA said it also wanted to reach out to veterans who are students.

Gaither said it’s hard for someone returning from duty to think about anything other than going home.

“Often times it’s after the individual has returned home that we want to make sure we reach out to them and that they know about those benefits - and that they take advantage of those benefits,” Gaither said. "They have earned those benefits by their military service.”

Isaacks said another goal of the event was for Truman VA to potentially join forces with the schools and other organizations that came to the benefits fair.

“There’s a lot of things that organizations can partner with us to provide benefits to veterans that may be outside of what we’re able to or what we’re allowed to,” Isaacks said.

Gaither said Truman VA serves around 39,000 veterans in the mid-Missouri area.