The 2016 reunion speaker is Alabama Major General Janet Cobb, a resident of Baldwin County and the new director of the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Cobb graduated from the University of Alabama ROTC and served seven years of active duty after being commissioned as a second lieutenant for the Army Reserve.
“We believe it is important to acknowledge the men and women who have or had elected to defend our country. We want to provide a memorable weekend which showcases appreciation and gratitude for the many heroes in Alabama,” said Brandt LaPish, Tuscaloosa Sports and Tourism’s director of communications and public relations. “This event is important because it offers opportunities for friendships to be fostered between veterans of all ages and it enables the creation of a state-wide awareness of veteran statistics and issues.”
New to the reunion in 2016, the MyVA Community forum is new, LaPish said.
“MyVA Community is a nation-wide program that works to resolve issues at the local level to import service delivery for Veterans, Service members and their families,” she said. “We will have an open public forum for anyone to attend and find out more about the services provided to Veterans and active service members.
“According to the program’s website, the MyVA Communities model enables veteran advocates, service providers, Veterans and stakeholders to have a voice in identifying their community goals and work to resolve issues at the local level to improve service delivery for Veterans, Service members, and their families. Because community involvement is key to MyVA’s success, they have begun participating more actively in community-based efforts to maximize the collective impact of local services, stakeholders, and federal/state agencies working together to Veteran outcomes,” LaPish said.
US Army veteran Sergeant Chris Gunter said the reunion caters veterans of all ages and has something for everyone. The Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veteran said he enjoyed visiting Tuscaloosa’s Veterans Memorial Park during the previous year’s reunion where he was able to see the engraved granite walls honoring over 3,100 veterans.
“There’s so much information given out on those days for veterans. I didn’t realize I could put my name on that wall – so I’m getting my name and my dad’s name up there,” he said. “I think the way they’ve done this event grabs the attention of younger veterans – it’s great to hang out with the older veterans, but this event caters to the younger ones as well. It’s a great opportunity to grab those who recently came back or participated in the Middle East and I think that’s what appeals to me the most. When you understand what the military does as far as creating a brotherhood, it’s really amazing to have a chance to get together with other veterans.”
The cost of attendance is $35 per person or $60 per couple. For more information, visit alabamaveteransreunion.com.