An event next month will serve as a “one-stop shop” for Livingston County veterans and their families where they can find information about local resources, fellowship and fun.

The second annual Livingston Vet Fest will be held at Cleary University in Genoa Township on Saturday, August 10th from 11am to 3pm. The event is free to Michigan service members, veterans and their families and will feature a host of happenings that are both adult and kid-friendly. Kids can enjoy activities like cornhole, bounce houses, balloon artists, face painting, and a photobooth. Also on display will be fire, police, tactical and EMS vehicles for kids to explore. First responders will be handing out backpacks filled with school supplies to the first 200 kids that arrive. Adults will have their fun too, including a chance to relax thanks to a massage therapist offering their services for free. Guests can expect delicious food as this year’s theme is BBQ-style and there will be snacks like popcorn and popsicles for the kids. There will be entertainment provided by two live bands and emcee Sheriff Mike Murphy. Those with proof of their service will also have a chance to win various prizes.

Service members and veterans will have the opportunity to visit over 40 booths that have information about local resources available to them. The Ann Arbor VA and Livingston County Veterans Services will be on hand to offer information or assist attendees with claims, healthcare enrollment, death benefits, and transportation to the VA. The mobile Secretary of State bus will be there to help guests obtain a veteran designation on their license or license plate. New this year is the Veteran Experience Action Center, which is an all-encompassing station with information about pension, disability and burial benefits. Nurses and physicians will be present to conduct intake exams to enroll veterans into the VA healthcare system on the spot.

The event was created and is organized by Joseph Riker and Joshua Parish, both of whom are veterans that served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Riker and Parish say a commonality they shared upon returning home was that they were unaware of the benefits they were entitled to and where they could find assistance in the area. Parish says he had to search that information out himself, adding that he lived in Howell for three years before he even knew there was a local county veterans’ affairs office offering those resources. Parish and Riker say they wanted to address that through an outreach event that involves and serves both veterans and their families.

They note that many events are geared toward older veteran populations or held during weekdays, creating a need for an event that reaches younger veterans who may be working during those times or have different needs based on their younger family dynamics. Riker and Parish say the goal of the event is to make sure that veterans are being honored and given the proper resources to help them through hard times and good times, adding that they want to make the 11,000 veterans in the local community feel appreciated and welcomed home.

Riker and Parish encourage those planning to attend to register early so they may plan accordingly. They stress that there is no charge associated with the event and that a veteran or service member does not need to be present in order for their families to attend. Those attending can park at Carson’s in the Grand River Plaza Shopping Center and get a ride over to Cleary University from one of several LETS buses that will be providing transportation throughout the day.

Additional event details can be found at the Livingston County Vet Fest Facebook page
A link to register is posted below. (DK)