HARRY takes care of veterans on their special day

HARRY takes care of  veterans on their special day
November 19
00:00 2015

By Tevin Stinson

The Chronicle

A group that advocates for veterans opened its office on Veterans Day to make sure its message is known.

A.J. Shabazz, event coordinator for HARRY, said the open house was designed to show local veterans how much they are appreciated.

“We have events throughout the year to show veterans how much we appreciate what they do,” he continued. “Every chance we get we try to give back but, for Veteran’s Day, we wanted to do something big.”

Each gift bag was filled with a number of items, including clothes, shoes, blankets, first-aid kits, notebooks, calendars and much more.

Currently HARRY (Helping Advocate Research Respond for You) serves 300 veterans, many of whom attended the open house at the nonprofits’ headquarters at 897 Peters Creek Parkway. All military veterans received a gift bag and free lunch.

HARRY welcomed new members during the event as well. Non-members were encouraged to fill out applications to become regular members of the organization. 

Many mentioned they heard about HARRY by word of mouth.

“I had never heard about the organization until one of my friends told me to check it out,” said Vietnam veteran Derrick Smith.

“This program and this event was very much needed,” he continued. “I will definitely be back.”

Through advocacy, counseling, and handling medical claims, the organization provides a support system for veterans and their families they cannot get anywhere else.

“Here we have the ability to look at governmental claims and talk to our members about what they mean,” said Shabazz. “The only other people who can do that is lawyers, so that’s one thing that really sets us apart.”

During the event, a number of veterans praised the organization for all they do.

Jimmie Cameron, who has been a member since 2012, mentioned, “There should be more organizations like this one.

“HARRY has been a big help to me and a number of other veterans in the area,” he said. “A lot of veterans are seeking help but don’t know where to look. I try to tell every veteran I meet about HARRY.”

HARRY Veteran Community Outreach Services is named in honor of ex-Marine and Winston-Salem native Harry Smith.

After a battle with colon cancer, Smith passed away in 2005. According to Shabazz, Smith’s nephew, if doctors at the Veterans Administration hospital would have detected the disease earlier, his uncle may still be alive today.

“We kept making trips to the VA hospital in Salisbury, and they continued to tell us that nothing was wrong. It wasn’t until we took my uncle to Forsyth Medical Center did they diagnose him with colon cancer,” Shabazz said.

“That’s why we started this organization, to make sure veterans in this area receive the help they need and deserve.

For more information, visit the organization’s official website

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