District 5 Veterans of Foreign Wars celebrating the nation’s veterans

L-R: SFC Tara Rivers and Eleanor Mills of the Jackson Quilters Guild, (Quilt of Valor Foundation) displaying Quilt Of Valor

By Janice K. Neal-Vincent, Ph.D.,
Contributing Writer,

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Answering the call to serve our country is the message veterans are expected to demonstrate with this Oath of Enlistment. Irrespective of different experiences with war, veterans are reminded of their covenant of responsibility and accountability.

Chris Gray, (L), Junior Vice Commander at VFW Post 9832, expresses gratitude to guest speaker, Commissioner Willie Simmons, for his words of encouragement to the veterans and their families. Photos by Janice K. Neal-Vincent

On the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW) website, Lori Thompson, executive director (2021-present) notes, “It is those rare individuals who are selfless enough to sacrifice so much so we can all enjoy the freedom we have,” who answer the call to serve the US.

Regardless of knowing how each veteran is “touched by war,” Thompson maintains that we should make our veterans feel welcomed, support them and their loved ones, and, whenever possible, thank them for their service.

Brookes – Williams – Stewart (Post 9832) of District 5 presented a Joint Veterans Day Program at 4610 Willie Lindsey Dr. in Jackson, MS 39213 – in recognition of Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11, 2023 at 11:11 a.m.

Guest speaker, Willie Simmons, Central Commissioner – Mississippi Department of Transportation – mentioned that the “Thank You Veterans” theme was appropriate because veterans were commended for “working as protectors of this country.” Hence, those who have served and are currently serving are worthy to be honored.

L-R: Ira Turner, VFW District 5 Commander and Post Commander of VFW Post 9832, SFC (Retired) Commander Tara Rivers, Quilt of Valor recipient, VFW Post 12172, Wilson – Bain – Martin, Brandon; and Eleanor Mills, representative, Jackson Quilters Guild, Quilt of Valor Foundation

Simmons proceeded to share his Viet Nam experiences as a soldier at the age of 22. He said, “Serving in Viet Nam gave me an opportunity to be our brothers’ keeper. It didn’t matter if you were black or white, etc. We learned to work together as a team.”

In closing, the speaker proffered ways that veterans could be honored every day: (1) “Walk up to them and say, ‘Thank you;’ (2) Buy them a cup of tea; (3) Sometimes pick up the phone and just call a veteran; (4) Tell the President, Lieutenant Governor, etc. to support our veterans; (5) Provide transportation for them; and (6) Give thanks to the veterans’ families who have been put under a lot of stress, not knowing conditions or where they are assigned.”

L-R: Ira Turner, VFW District 5 Commander and Post Commander of VFW Post 9832, SFC (Retired) Commander Tara Rivers, Quilt of Valor recipient, VFW Post 12172, Wilson – Bain – Martin, Brandon; and Eleanor Mills, representative, Jackson Quilters Guild, Quilt of Valor Foundation

The honor ceremony recognized two veterans who each received the Quilt of Valor.

EM3/E4 Comrade Larry Simpson served actively in the US Navy (1970-1972) as an electrician mate, bearing responsibility for keeping the power flowing aboard Navy ships. The honoree also served in the US Navy Reserve from 1972 until retiring with over 20 years in 1993. He has toured the entire world. He is recipient of numerous awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Meritorious Unit Citation Ribbon Simpson currently serves as Post 9832 Judge Advocate.

For more than 32 years, SFC Tara Rivers served in the US Army and Mississippi Army National Guard as Human Resource NCO, Automated Logistic Specialist, OCS Instructor, Aerial Sensor Operator, Equal Opportunity Advisor and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate. Among numerous awards, she received the Air Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two stars, during her tenure in the military. In 2018 – 2019, SFC Rivers’ last deployment was to Kuwait to serve as the first Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) Operational Support Post, Senior Equal Opportunity Advisor – where she was responsible for over 10,000 soldiers and civilians in operation of over 20 countries. The honoree medically retired in March 2022.

EM3/E4 Simpson and SFC Rivers reacted to their honors by expressing appreciation to the Jackson Quilters Guild of the Quilt of Valor Foundation and VFW Post 9832.

Rivers acknowledged District 5 Commander Ira Turner, Eleanor Mills and Dr. Margrit Wallace (Central Mississippi Coordinator for the Quilt of Valor Foundation) for their continued devotion to honoring veterans. With an appeal to the audience, she said, “Financial materials are greatly appreciated, and I encourage everyone to donate to this wonderful [cause].”

At podium, Melinda Redd, VFW Post 9832 member – highlights history of The Quilt of Valor Foundation. Photos by Janice K. Neal-Vincent

The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. It is a reminder that we ought to honor our veterans. It says unequivocally, “Thank you for your service and sacrifice in serving our nation.”

District 5, Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts are as follows: 9832 Brooks – Williams – Stewart (Jackson)…Cmdr. Ira Turner; 2572 William T. Gifford (Vicksburg)…Cmdr. Phares Griffin; 3685 James A. Barnett (Clinton)…Cmdr. Donald Malin; 5048 Rankin County Harrison – White (Richland)…Cmdr. Robert Wedgeworth; 5318 Denson – Evertt – Joyner (Canton)…Cmdr. Denny Foil; 6809 Trace Reservoir (Madison)…Cmdr. Eugene “Tray” McClure; 9122 Ross – Williams – Grubbs (Mendenhall)…Cmdr. Larry Berry, and 12172 Wilson – Bain – Martin (Brandon)…Cmdr. Tara Rivers.


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