Local 249 honors service on Veteran’s Day

By Pat Hayes

With winter’s cold setting in and homelessness rising in the Kansas City area, Local 249 members from the Veteran’s and VCAP committees rolled up their sleeves Nov. 11 to help distribute new boots, warm clothing, haircuts, health screenings and a hot meal to some 300 homeless veterans on Veteran’s Day. Local 249 members worked with Hope and Faith KC, a daytime homeless center that provides critical services to those experiencing homelessness and at-risk individuals, families, and youth.

The Kansas City Veteran’s Day Stand Down is the second annual event sponsored by Hope and Faith KC. Local 249’s Veteran’s Committee has worked with Hope and Faith KC and other area veteran’s organizations for many years to provide needed services to homeless veterans. Veteran’s Day Stand Downs are typically one- to three-day events providing supplies and services to homeless Veterans, such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings and VA Social Security benefits counseling.

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938.

Veteran’s Committee Chair, Dave Grant, and members Hans Beebe, David Cox, Diane Bell, Demetris Camp, Justin Vasko, Tracie Chrisman, Nathan Chrisman and Chris Scott helped provide security, check the status of participants and distribute clothing at the Stand Down. Local 249 President Jason Starr, CAP Chair Jay Bosler and CAP Committee member Greg Smith also assisted at the event.

Local 249 members also provided Thanksgiving dinner to 150 residents and staff of St. Michaels Veteran’s Center on Nov. 20. St. Michaels provides veterans with a place to live, employment assistance, physical and mental health care, as well as trauma and addiction management.

This is the fourth year that Local 249 has provided Thanksgiving dinner to residents of St. Michaels.

“This year we were able to serve dinner inside the center,” said Veteran’s Committee Chair Dave Grant. “Last year, we had to serve dinner outside due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Veteran’s Committee members Dave Grant, Hans Beebe, David Cox, Demetris Camp, Diane Bell, Chris Scott all helped prepare and serve the dinner, as did Motorcycle Committee members Josh Curtis, Joe Lumpkin, Darin Pieper, William O’Neal and family members Sharon King and daughter Erin. Member to Member Committee members Erica Eckart, Amy Minich, Zach Pridgen and CAP Committee members Shirley Mata, Jay Bosler and Greg Smith also participated.

The Veteran’s Committee is also planning to distribute Challenge Coins to Local 249 veterans as well as active and inactive military who present a DD 214, driver’s license with veteran’s designation, VA card or military ID.  A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion, bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. Traditionally, they might be given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale.

“Local 249 members are making a real difference in people’s lives here in Kansas City,” says Local 249 President Jason Starr. “I’m especially proud that so many members of a number of union committees helped our veteran’s with these events honoring our nation’s veterans.”