By Neal Kirmer
On April 5-6 the Cameron University Veterans Affairs office held its annual Vet Fest in the McMahon Centennial Complex (MCC). The Vet Fest coincided with the Military Veterans Resource Fair also held in the MCC.
The two-day event saw several speakers give presentations that covered a wide range of topics. Topics presented included “Women Warriors: A Fort Sill Legacy” and an overview of The Pact Act, a new law that expands VA health care.
A former collections specialist for the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum, Mark Megehee presented “Women Warriors: A Fort Sill Legacy.”
Attendees learned about local women warriors who served at Fort Sill and their exemplary service.
VA military services coordinator Kimberly Wendel spoke about The Pact Act. This new law expands VA health benefits for those former service members who were exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances.
Vicki Henson, Assistant Director of Financial Assistance Services and Coordinator of Veterans Affairs, spoke about who could attend the event.
“We welcome community members throughout southwest Oklahoma to learn about veterans who are making a difference in Lawton/Fort Sill and the surrounding area,” Henson said. “Vet Fest also offers tips and resources for military service members, veterans and dependents.”
The Military Veterans Resource Fair saw organizations set up booths in the MCC to provide resources for veterans and their dependents. The Comanche County Veterans Council, Disabled American Veterans and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs were just a few of those in attendance.
“The fair is designed to benefit veterans, active duty and dependents, and will help ensure that they are familiar with the vast array of resources that are available to them,” Henson said. According to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, only about four percent for college students are veterans.
Citing the VA, the website collegefactual.com said that Cameron University has 892 students enrolled who use the GI Bill in some fashion. This equates to 23% of those who attend Cameron.
In a 2021 article in the Military Times: “Best for Vets,” Cameron ranked third in the state.
“Veterans are a treasure,” Henson said. “We want to take care of our veterans and provide them with services that are outstanding. They need to be aware of the services that are provided for them, and the fair provides that opportunity.”
This year will also mark the 75th year since the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed, which authorized the regular, permanent enlistment of women in all four branches of the military.
Several female veterans were honored at Cameron’s Empowering Women in Leadership and STEM Conference at 5:20 p.m. on April 6. in the McCasland Ballroom. Faculty in Residence Christopher Sauer said there are a multitude of distinguished veterans in Lawton.
“One of the big things you’re going to notice about many of our veterans here is that they’ve done a lot of community outreach,” Sauer said.
One of the panelists at the leadership conference was Una Lisa Williams. Williams is a Cameron alumna and president of the first local chartered Women Veterans Organization. She also serves on the Mayor’s Commissioner on the Status of Women as the first Women Veteran Commissioner.
One honoree at the conference was Lieutenant Colonel Adia H. Terry, who is on active duty. She has received military awards and medals such as three Meritorious Service medals, six Army Commendation Medals and the Army Achievement Medal among others.
For more information, contact Henson at email@example.com.