Omegas will honor veterans

Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.

Local military veterans will have a chance to learn about their benefits, eat a hot breakfast and hear a keynote address by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett at the 7th annual Col. Charles D. Young Veterans Day Breakfast.



* What: The 7th annual Col. Charles D. Young Veterans Day Breakfast.

* When: 9 a.m. Monday.

* Where: King Center, 1028 NE 8th Ave.

* Cost: $10; free for vets.

* Information: Call 352-273-4365.

The breakfast, sponsored by the Beta Pi chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, which is Veterans Day, at the King Center at 1028 NE 14th St. Tickets are $10 in advance and at the door.

Businesses, individuals and organizations can sponsor 10-seat tables for veterans at a cost of $100, but RSVP by Friday by calling 352-273-4365, 352-745-6078 or 352-494-5005. Breakfast will be free for veterans who don't have sponsors.

The breakfast is named in honor of Young, who served in the military from 1889 until his death in 1922. He was the first black man to receive the rank of colonel in the U.S. military and the second honorary member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Charlie Jackson, president of Beta Pi, said a major highlight of the breakfast will be presenting a local veteran with the Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Award, which is given annually to a local veteran who had a distinguished military career. Davis, who died in 2002, was the first black general in the U.S. Air Force and served as commander of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Charles Chestnut III, a Beta Pi member and owner of Chestnut Funeral Home, said he has been a big supporter of the breakfast because it is a chance to honor and pay respect to a segment of society that often does not get the recognition they deserve.

"This breakfast gives recognition and pays homage to veterans, especially black veterans, who have fought in wars for this country, but have not received the appreciation they deserve," said Chestnut, who served in the U.S. Army during the mid- to late 1960s. "It just gives respect to those veterans who were drafted, like me, and to those who have volunteered to serve in the military to protect the freedoms we all enjoy."

Jackson said representatives from the VA Medical Center in Gainesville will be present to explain veterans' benefits earned from service in the military.

"It is very critical that we use this breakfast as an opportunity to reach out to those veterans who generally will not frequent the VA," said Jackson, a retired U.S. Army Major who served from 1979 to 1996. "It is proven that through the breakfast, we have been able to reach and inform a complete new audience of veterans who do not know about benefits they are entitled to as a result of the service they provided to the country."

Jackson said Garrett, chief of staff for the U.S. Army Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, was chosen as the speaker because of his service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Garrett received numerous awards and badges, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Pathfinder Badge and the Air Assault Badge.

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