NWI VA Center celebrates Christmas

FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND dignitaries gathered at the Northwest Indiana Veterans Assistance Center to celebrate at the annual Christmas/Holiday party hosted by the NAACP Gary Chapter and Steve Mays of State Farm Insurance. During the program deceased Viet Nam veteran George Osborne was recognized as a Medal of Honor inductee. Pictured, far left is Steve Mays, Veterans Assistance Center director Bob Farmer, Osborne’s brother Herbert Osborne, and sister, Georgia Osborne, Sargent Robert Buggs, and Nate Cain, Indiana War Memorial Commissioner appointed by the Governor.

The Northwest Indiana Veterans Assistance Center hosted military veterans and their families at the Center’s recent Christmas party in Gary this Holiday season. The Center exists to provide services to veterans to assist them in obtaining their Veterans Administration benefits, inform veterans of employment opportunities, and to be a friend in the community.

STUDENTS OF CALUMET NEW TECH High School in Gary added to the celebratory mood with festive holiday hats and Christmas carols.
CALUMET TECH HIGH School student Aaron Lizardi gets an autograph from former White Sox player and Navy Veteran Carlos May at the Veterans Assistance Center’s annual Christmas Party.

Bob Farmer is the Executive Director of the Center, located at 5921 W. 25th Avenue, in Gary. The Center, a volunteer staffed operation, has been open since 2013. According to Farmer, the Center assisted more than 600 veterans in 2016. Those veterans have served in conflicts that include World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the Gulf War, and the Iraqi Freedom Wars, to the present.

“The time frame from acceptance of a VA application to the receipt of benefits can be a tedious, time consuming one,” said Farmer. “We expedite that time frame by providing VA applicants with all the paperwork and forms they need to get started. When they arrive at the VA offices and are told you need this form and that form they can say ‘I have them right here, all filled out’.”

AIR FORCE VETERAN Valorie Harris and Army Veteran Angela K. Johnson each received a cap from Calumet New Tech student Peggy Sue Shirley. The caps were given to veterans attending the annual event on December 17.

In addition to providing practical functions for veterans, the Center also houses a Case of Honor, a wall mounted memorial to veterans of Northwest Indiana who have served with distinction. Center personnel review and select candidates for the Case of Honor. This year George Osborne, a Viet Nam veteran, was recognized for his heroic actions in the Viet Nam War. Osborne was killed when he jumped on a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers.

The Northwest Indiana Veterans Assistance Center was started by Bob Farmer. It operates without any government funding. Shawn Guy, 45, is an Army veteran of the Gulf War. She and Farmer manage all the responsibilities of running the Center. They receive no salary, and work because “the need is there,” says Guy.

The Center hosted almost 100 guests at its Christmas party. Farmer attributes the success of the Christmas party to the many helping hands in the Gary community.

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