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Record crowd enjoys Veterans Recognition Reception

Register-Herald - 11/9/2018

Nov. 09--MAXWELTON -- A record crowd gathered Thursday at the National Guard Armory near Greenbrier Valley Airport for the area's ninth annual Veterans Recognition Reception.

All 122 of the veterans in attendance received a pie from Shoney's to take home, with the promise of a second pie in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Free haircuts, free chair massages and a spaghetti luncheon, along with plenty of valuable information and assistance from a half-dozen vendors were also featured at the event.

"This is great," exclaimed Lisa Martin of Ronceverte. "It's my first massage. It makes me want to go the school and get another one."

The chair massages were provided by seven students from the massage therapy program offered at New River Community and Technical College'sLewisburg campus.

A veteran of the Women's Army Corps (1966-69), Martin called her military service "the best experience of my entire life." She added, "I'm grateful every single day."

An annual guest at the reception for the past three or four years, Martin was enthusiastic about the event.

"I already got a pie, and I'll get another one on the 20th," she said with a smile. "This is a gift that keeps on giving."

----"I thought I might see someone I know," said James Hanshew of Fayette County as he glanced around the huge room where the festivities were staged.

It was Hanshew's first time to attend the recognition reception, although he and his wife noted they have enjoyed other veterans-related events in Fayette and Raleigh counties.

Hanshew is an Army veteran, having served from 1969 to 1971.

----Marine Corps veteran (2001-05) Frank Wood, a Ronceverte native who now lives just up the road in Lewisburg, was also a first-time attendee at Thursday's reception.

"I got involved in the American Legion, and they encouraged me to come here today," Wood explained.

He said he had particularly enjoyed the socializing and camaraderie at the event. "And I might get a pie," he added.

----What began with a barber's chair in one corner of the cavernous room developed into an impromptu barbershop before the event ended.

"People congregated here to shoot the breeze," master barber Michael Lane said with a chuckle, as he trimmed a veteran's hair.

The proprietor of Mike's Barbershop in Fairlea, Lane said he was approached about volunteering his services at Thursday's reception by another tenant in the Goheen Street plaza where his six-month-old business is located.

It seemed to be working out well for both barber and customers, as they bantered back and forth.

"I've met a lot of good fellows here today," the amiable Lane said.

----Another busy spot on the edge of the room belonged to the previously-mentioned New River CTC massage therapy class.

Instructor Ann Stratton pointed out that this was the first such event for her students, and although they started out a little nervous, their confidence grew as the day progressed.

"The veterans were enthusiastic from the beginning today," Stratton said. "Usually people hang back at first and wait for somebody else to be the first to step up to a chair, but that wasn't the case here at all."

Student Ethel Kinser of Lewisburg confirmed that "business" was brisk from the outset at the line of massage chairs.

"We had over 20 clients in the first hour," Kinser said. "We're limiting them to no more than 15 minutes, in order to accommodate everyone who wants a massage."

----Sponsors of the Veterans Recognition Reception were the Lewisburg Military Family Assistance Center, North Central WV Community Action and WorkForce West Virginia.

In addition to the 122 veterans on hand, 51 non-veterans -- mostly spouses -- were also in attendance at the event.

-- Email: talvey@register-herald.com

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(c)2018 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.)

Visit The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.) at www.register-herald.com

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