ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - United States veterans from all over the state have met in Alexandria for a Veterans of Foreign Wars of Louisiana conference.
They told us it’s a chance to advocate for the VFW and make sure they get benefits for veterans, military personnel and their families.
The special guest speaker was Retired Colonel Joey Strickland, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Louisiana. Strickland is a two tour Vietnam vet, as well as an active member of the organization.
On Saturday he left a message of thanks for the VFW and for the state of Louisiana, saying that no one else does more for veterans.
"It makes me feel really good, because Louisiana has always been a pro-veteran state, pro-military,” expressed Col. Strickland. “When the chips are down, our fellow citizens step up and serve in the military. So it makes me feel good."
A tradition at the conference is to name the VFW Teacher of the Year. Elementary, middle and high school teachers are nominated and for the first time a teacher from Central Louisiana won the award this year.
Randy Smith is a civics teacher at Bolton High School. He said he's honored to get the award, but he gives credit to his students and fellow staff.
"Oh it's phenomenal,” said Smith. “You know at Bolton with our population, sometimes our students don't get an opportunity to get out and do those things. So it's an honor to get them out into the community, see them working hard, and see the growth from the beginning of the semester until now. It's really been amazing, the administration gives us a lot of opportunities to work with these kids, and to make better citizens, which is what the award is about."
The Ladies Auxiliary was also on hand with plenty of items on sale, all the proceeds go towards helping out homeless veterans.