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Flowers, freebies, and fun in abundance for Veterans at 2nd Annual VA Health Summit

location of event

On a beautiful, late summer day in September, more than 600 Veterans, family members, and friends from all over Northeast Arkansas gathered at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks for the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks’ (VHSO) 2nd Annual Health Summit.

“The goal of the event was to provide easy access for Veterans to learn about VA services and connect with community organizations that support Veterans,” said Local Recovery Coordinator Allison Wright, LCSW.


With 85 different booths, the VHSO Health Summit featured not only information about VA care and resources, but offered a little something for everyone.


While a live band played, free bicycles were distributed, more than 150 Veterans received complimentary haircuts, 25 Veterans got a flu shot, and everyone enjoyed a healthy lunch at no cost. There were also fly fishing demonstrations, mental health program presentations, a drum circle activity, patriotic cupcake decorating, service dog introductions, and equine therapy interactions. In addition to learning about various Veteran-centric community organizations that provide free outdoor adventure trips, post-traumatic growth retreats, and fly fishing trips, Veterans were able to learn about their PACT Act benefits and sign-up on-the-spot for VA health care.


Veterans Cheryl and Norman McNeil receive their care from VHSO, but were surprised to learn about many Veteran resources.


“Even though I already receive care at VHSO and have lived in this community for many years, I had no idea of all the resources available to us,” said Cheryl, “I’m so glad I came to this event. It was nice to actually talk to people and ask questions about their programs. The location was perfect.”


This is the second year the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks has offered its main lawn for this event. Attendees were able to walk the garden’s meditative labyrinth and enjoy the coy pond, fountains, and the native flowers in bloom.


“Many Veterans are struggling with isolation so we wanted to provide an enjoyable environment where Veterans could relax and have some fun while they learned about VA services, visited with VA program representatives, meet each other, and find out about the incredible resources and services our community provides,” said Wright. “We wanted not only enrolled Veterans to attend, but those who may not have been eligible in the past. The bottom line is we want Veterans to know they are not alone. VA is here for them.”


“This event was amazing! So many great people out sharing and giving of the human spirit,” said Army Veteran Scott Mulherin. “My cheeks hurt when I got home and I realized it was from smiling so much today, more than I had in years. My heart was filled with joy and love from each person I met.”


To learn more about Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks and upcoming events, visit VA Fayetteville Arkansas Health Care | Veterans Affairs 



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