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The first annual Prineville Rendezvous Resource Fair will provide information and resources to all military veterans and their families

On Friday, Sept. 23, the Crook County Veterans' Services will sponsor a resource fair for local veterans.

The first annual Prineville Rendezvous Resource Fair will be available to all U.S. military veterans at the Carey Foster Hall, 1280 South Main St., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event includes a free Mexican-style lunch, served by Ron's Comfort Food and Café, and a number of booths will be placed throughout the building to provide resources and information for local veterans and their families.

"We're not just making this for veterans only, but veterans and their families," commented Sean Kirk of the Crook County Veterans' Office.

A wide variety of resources and information will be presented by members of veteran-specific organizations, including active-duty transition assistance, community services, disability benefit claim assistance, educational benefits, homeless services and at risk, housing and home ownership, and jobs and apprenticeship training and vocational opportunities. The event will help veterans and their families to obtain direct connections and information on different types of veteran-specific programs and resources.

Kirk began his position at the Crook County Veterans Office the first of the 2022 year, along with Nancy Laude, who also serves veterans and their families at the local office.

Kirk said of his recent assignment, "I know veterans, because I am one, and those are the people I am the most comfortable with. With my career doing the recruiting, I have seen people — plus myself — come into the military. I worked at the military entrance processing station, so I helped them through that entire process to actually sign their contract and get qualified and ship them off to basic. My last position was when they were transitioning out, and this seems like another natural progression. Now, I am helping people who are out. I have hit every avenue, and I like helping people and veterans, and that is why I chose the HR field in the military, and this is just another way to continue that in an extension."

Laude works in the veteran's office each week with Kirk and is also a U.S. veteran. She served in active duty with the U.S. Army just shy of 11 years. After leaving the service, she volunteered with COVO (Central Oregon Veterans Outreach), working with a service officer helping with veterans' claims.

Laude wants veterans in Crook County to know that they are here and available to serve them.

"I think it's important that people in the county should be able to stay in the county and be able to come in and get the help that they need — whether its claims or healthcare or whatever — that they know that we're here and they don't need to go somewhere else to get whatever questions that they have," Laude commented.

One of the specific resources that will be available at the fair includes the Cascade East Transit Veteran's Healthcare Transportation Service in Crook, Jefferson and Deschutes counties, made possible by a grant in November 2020. A booth will be available for questions and information.

Other resources include Central Oregon Veterans Center, Save a Warrior, Crook County Parks and Recreation, a State Parks representative, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife — for information on parks access. Kirk emphasized that there are special permits, passes and waivers for fees available for veterans.

"Those are things that a lot of people don't know a lot about," explained Kirk of the state and national parks.

Other organizations that will be at the resource fair include the Oregon National Guard from Bend, Family Readiness and Transition Support Team, The Shield (Veteran PTSD counseling), Patriot Pin Up, Oregon Chapter, Rogue Valley Transit, Central Oregon Veteran Ranch, Crook County Health Department and Prineville Band of Brothers.

"We just wanted to do something for Crook County," concluded Kirk. "We wanted to do something special for here and get as many vendors as we could to come."

Prineville Rendezvous Resource Fair

When: Friday, September 23

Where: Carey Foster Hall, 1280 South Main Street

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, call Crook County Veteran Services at 541-447-5304

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