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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

 

New Vet Center opens in North Charleston

Silent praise during National Anthem

Veterans and members of the Patriot Guard Riders render proper respect to the flag as it is officially raised for the first time July 9 during a grand opening ceremony for the new Charleston Vet Center. The brand-new facility is one of three Vet Centers in the area served by Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and provides valuable reintegration services to Veterans, active-duty military members and their families. Photo by James Arrowood

By By Meredith A. H. Thomas
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A few hundred Veterans, community members, VA employees and volunteers gathered recently in North Charleston to celebrate the grand opening of the new Charleston Vet Center. The facility, located on West Montague Avenue, takes the place of a much smaller original center, which had become too cramped for staff to effectively assist the Veterans utilizing it for reintegration services.

Ron Brinson, District 4 Councilman for the City of North Charleston, Scott Isaacks, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Interim Director, and Sarita Figueroa, Southeastern Regional Manager for Readjustment Counseling Service were on hand to give remarks to the enthusiastic crowd. Emily Shannon, Vet Center team leader, served as emcee for the event.

“The impact of the Vet Center in a Veteran’s life is of great value,” Figueroa said. “The centers offer an alternative to traditional mental health care and have the highest level of Veteran satisfaction of any VA service.”

The Charleston facility is one of three Vet Centers located in the areas serviced by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center – the others are located in Savannah and Myrtle Beach. These centers partner with the medical center and the community based outpatient clinics to offer invaluable readjustment counseling services to Veterans and their families.

“In large ways and in small ways, every Veteran has served every citizen,” Brinson said. “It is now our duty to take care of them. This Vet Center is part of that deal.”

The event started with the rumbling entrance of around 20 Patriot Guard motorcycle riders clad in leather vests and carrying American flags. The group was accompanied by a small group of road cyclists, peddling alongside the motorized bikes on the short trek from the old facility to the brand-new one.

Music was provided by the East Cooper Home School Band, a group comprised of nearly 20 young musicians of varying ages, who energized the crowd with renditions of each branch’s service song, as well as other military tunes. The National Anthem was sung by Charleston Vet Center Readjustment Counseling Therapist, Delia Chariker.

The ceremony focused on honoring all Veterans and remembering those who were either killed or missing in action or taken as prisoners of war. Caleb Paul, a Veteran of World War II, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and L.C. Mills, VFW 9509 Moncks Corner Commander, performed a Prisoner of War Table of Honor ceremony for onlookers. Additionally, honored Veterans joined together to officially raise the U.S. flag outside of the new facility.

Special guests then cut the ceremonial ribbon and opened the doors to the new Charleston Vet Center, welcoming guests in to take tours, enjoy a barbeque lunch and listen to rousing musical selections provided by the band, Veterans in Harmony.

“The Vet Center team, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and I are proud to have this new Vet Center in our community,” said Isaacks. “We look forward to continuing to provide outstanding care and assistance to the Veterans we are all so privileged to serve.”

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