Military veterans of all ages often can be overlooked, which is why the Jackson County Veterans Affairs Office is sponsoring an appreciation dinner in their honor.

The Sept. 20 event includes a free meal from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and guest speakers beginning at 6 p.m. at Horizon Hall, Bellevue.

All military veterans and their spouses are invited to attend and can bring their young children. Widows and widowers of veterans are also encouraged to attend.

The event is a way to inform veterans and their spouses about benefits for which they may be eligible and to help them meet other people, according to Debbie Schroeder, county Veterans Affairs director.

“We have a great abundance of Vietnam and older veterans coming to our office,” located inside the Courthouse. “We’re trying to get the younger vets interested, involved and engaged.”

Guest speakers knowledgeable on veterans’ issues will speak and answer questions at the event. Topics will include suicide prevention and awareness, veterans’ benefits, Troy Lewis with the VA Mobile Vet Center, and the Jackson County Economic Alliance discussing area career opportunities for veterans.

“We just wanted to try something different to respect our local veterans,” she said. “Other counties have coffee and donuts, but we thought it would be more helpful to have a meal and speakers so veterans could go straight to the source with their questions. I’m hoping for a positive outcome and would like this to become an annual event.”

Schroeder said state funding will pay for the veterans appreciation event.