Veterans Challenge - envisioning a brighter future for veterans and all
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Please see our slides for the Ribbon Cutting, The Veteran's Ball and The Gospel Fest by clicking the blue specified button to the left above. 

Save the date!!!   Lenoir County's Third Annual Veterans Ball!  Saturday night, September 26, 2015, at the Ballroom of the Hampton Inn, Kinston, NC!!!

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment, Cash Bar, Gifts, Prizes, Fun!  All to honor those whom have served!  Tickets are just $9 each.  Each year the ball has sold out so feel encouraged to get your tickets soon.  They can be purchased now by sending a check or money order with self-addressed envelope, and number of tickets needed, to:

Veterans Challenge, Inc.
PO Box 6483
Kinston, NC  28501

Questions:  252-933-3540

Just come for the ball or... take advantage of discounted hotel room for Saturday night or, hang out in the pool, dine and visit within the community for the entire weekend!  Just tell the receptionist you are with the Veterans Ball when you book, and get your room for just $83 per night!

Sponsors are needed and so appreciated.  To make a monetary or gift donation please use the above contact information.  Businesses, ministries, organizations that have handouts, large or small gift items, from a few pens, to one for each gift bag (210), music or speech/sermon CD's/DVD's, gift certificates, and larger prizes, all veterans and their guests leave at the conclusion of the ball with an array of items.

Veterans Challenge Motto:  "Promoting the
health & prosperity of Veterans and the community!"

Veteran: For the purpose of Veterans Challenge, a Veteran is any person that is, or has ever been, enlisted in one of the branches of the United States Military.

"We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone... but for all mankind."  Franklin D. Roosevelt

Mission Statement: The mission of Veterans Challenge is to advocate and promote the general welfare and prosperity of U.S. military veterans by: providing assistance and referrals for vets and immediate family members.  This endeavor is inclusive of mental health assistance for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) (combat-related & other), TBI (traumatic brain injury), marital and family counseling, substance abuse, DWI assessments, veteran incarcerations and recidivism, medical referral, and suicide prevention.  It also includes pension and disability-filing, war veterans aid & assistance benefits, foreclosure prevention, employment, homeless veterans placement and care, housing opportunities, mortgage refinancing, health care contracts, dependent scholarship, access to benefits, business ownership, undergrad and graduate education, technical support and other specific trainings, athletic & talent referrals, cultural and utilization of the arts, veteran burial assistance, and memorials.
Also provided are entertainment, recreational avenues and opportunities for comraderie, as well as community enhancement and involvements to continue  the veteran stance of protecting America's citizens and promoting God and Country.
Our vision: The vision of Veterans Challenge encompasses ideas and strategies galore that would involve the talents and skills of veterans interwoven within the fabric of the community.  Our tax dollars are utilized to extensively train every individual that enters U.S. military services, to not only be a warrior to defend our Country if need be, and represent democracy in other areas of the globe, but with technology and leadership skills, expertise with various vehicles and equipment, and a conglomerate of other training.  Military personnel assume roles of responsibility, for weaponry, some for high-dollar jets, planes, helicopters, submarines, tanks, ships, boats, trucks, and  Humvee,... some for a wide variety of technical equipment, but all have been responsible for other marines or soldiers, as well as the lives and safety of civilian personnel in America, and if not also, those beyond our borders.  Whether one continues a career in the military, or is discharged, or retires, the talents and skills acquired have extensive value, and are greatly needed to enhance the lives of all in the community where the military person or veteran lives. 
Contact for Veterans Challenge Inc., is PO Box 6483, Kinston, NC  28501,  USA.  Phone: 252-933-3540. or 

  Veterans Challenge Director is Debby Guthrie, MA, QP (Master's in Management & Leadership and Qualified Professional in Mental Health while working toward Masters in Counseling.)

A priority goal of Veterans Challenge is: Camp Veterans Challenge, a retreat for military PTSD, TBI, Substance Abuse, and other mental health maladies.

 Those who attended Lenoir County's First Annual Fun Dance sponsored by Veterans Challenge, can testify to a fun time lead by the terrific band, "Sure Thing," (includes Air Force Veteran Rick Young), and additional jams and requests of D.J. Shon.  A special thank you goes to Army Iraq Veteran Brian Jones who provided the "banging" BBQ chicken!  Please acknowledge the following award recipients: Most Talented Dancer- Male: James Smith, Most Talented Dancer- Female: Sandra Juanice Simmons, Dancer with the most Endurance: Concetta Covington, Oldest Dancer: Leon Windley (76), Youngest Dancer: Braylen Taylor (3), Teen Dancer Favorite: Kiki Anthony, Child Dancer Favorite: Crystal Cheyenne Cheston, Young Adult Dancer Favorite: Doretha Benjamin, Adult Dancer Favorite: Dollie Joyner, Senior Adult Dancer Favorite: Karsem Windley, Most Talented Dance Couple: Tony and Rosa, Most Loving Dance Couple: Mr. and Mrs. Cauthen, Most Entertaining Dance Couple: Leon and Karsem Windl

(Any persons, businesses, ministries or organizations that would like to make a monetary or in-kind donation to the 2015 Veterans Ball, your gift will be acknowledged, very much appreciated, and 501(c)(3) receipt given. Any items such as a few logo pens to many, large door prizes to small, gift basket items to impressive prize selections, gift certificates, CD's and DVD's of entertainment or sermons, even boxes of candies or gifts...please contact:, Veterans Challenge PO Box 6483, Kinston, NC  28501, or call Debby Guthrie at 252-933-3540. (Business cards, ministry flyers and invites, etc. can be attached to gift items or included as handouts.) Lenoir County's 3rd Annual Veterans Ball is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26.  For updates on ticket sales etc. please check back at or make inquiry at

Dear Editor;                  
            This is an urgent letter that I hope your readers will take seriously, but first let me start on a light note.  When I was a young person looking forward to going to an exquisite club with some uptown friends, I excitedly dressed for the occasion hoping to fit in, and as we approached the entrance I hesit 
ated to carefully read the elaborate engraved sign by the door, “For members and non-members only.” Ha!                
           Though tragic shootings in our community is definitely no laughing matter, I’d like to solicit the attention of service members and non-service members only.  It’s definitely a time for deserving veteran celebrations, but it’s also a time where increased community action is needed NOW!  We need everyone, including our current and newly elected officials, and the candidates that attempted so earnestly to represent our citizens, our pastors, media reporters, law enforcement, other leaders, our veteran organizations, as well as all to participate.                
            Our neighbors and young people being shot down in our streets this past week, again, has to alarm us, but do we continue to just weep at funerals and engage in gut-wrenching sorrow and dismay, get fired up and do a lot of talking, with little, if any, action?  Or do we resolve that it’s just a sign of desperate times and it’s only a law enforcement issue and there’s nothing really we can do about it as a community that will be significant enough?                  I dare you.  I double dare everyone reading this Free Press page, every person of this community whom has ever served our country, every pastor of this county, every doctor and nurse, dentist, politician, athlete, principal, teacher, janitor, business person, truck driver, counselor, deputy, police officer, detective, DA, and judge, every media reporter, every factory worker, mother, dad, grandparent, sister, brother, son, daughter…to attend Tuesday night’s Community Pot Luck Veteran’s Day Celebration.  The topic presented will be a strategic battle plan to immediately, Tuesday night, begin putting the strategies in motion to begin making a needed difference.                Wherever you are today talk to others, at church, at the National Guard Armory, the Woodmen of the World Center, at Wal-Mart, Foodlion, the Pig…at the Veterans Day festivities, talk to folks Monday, at your Veterans Day dinners, at work Tuesday, email, blog, tweet, post, call, text, visit, …If you have choir practice, Cross-fit workout or a club meeting…, contact others and suggest for just this one Tuesday evening let’s all participate in this community program instead.  Come alone or with others, but please attend Tuesday night, from 7 to 9:00, at the Expressions building of Vernon Park Mall.  Bring a covered dish, a bag of chips or 2-liter beverage and come hungry for food and implementing some innovative strategies, and eat and listen simultaneously, and feel encouraged, at the designated time, to share your own insight.                
              As with all Veterans Challenge monthly community programs, they are free, there’s entertainment, great information, community input, food and prizes for all.  Tuesday’s entertainment includes a vocal performance by Kinston’s remarkable Antuan Hawkins, and audience karaoke. Let’s “come in unity,” with “promoting the health & prosperity of veterans and the community.”  What have you got to lose?  Don’t we have a responsibility to try?  Or in the words of Major Gen. Frederick C. Blesse, “No guts, no glory.”  BELIEVE.
Debby Guthrie  
Special Thank You's:

Thank you to all who assisted with the Christmas parade, 2014!

Thank you to all who assisted with the parade, entertainment and programs of Salute for Veterans Day festivities.

Thank you to U.S. Army Veteran Lennie Peterson for your terrific talk and inspiration on the Oct. 14th Veterans Challenge Community Program!  Also thank you "Blues Around the World," for the sensational entertainment presentation! 
Thank you to Dr.Calvin Ellison PHD, ND, CNC for your truly inspiring talk on vibrant living on Aug. 12.  You are amazing and  we expect to live healthier, longer lives through your instruction! 
Thank you Charles Sharpe for being the most wonderful volunteer ever!  You are so terrific, go above and beyond to be helpful!
Thank you to Bonita Burney Simmons for the terrific inspiring performance at the May 13th Veterans Challenge Community Program.  It's easy to see why Bonita took so many accolades at Appollo! 
Thank you to Cossetta Covington for your remarkable entertainment for the April 8th Veterans Challenge Community Program.  God has certainly blessed you with a talent! 
We would like to express a heartfelt thank you to those who attended and supported Lenoir County's First Annual Veterans Challenge Gospel Fest of March 23, 2013.  It was indeed, spectacular!
We especially express grateful appreciation to the gracious gospel performers that made this blessed event so wonderful, and have included booking information that ministries and organizations might readily access these talented annointed performing artists: Living Waters Praise Team (252-775-2503), Wings of Joy (268-2918), Gospel Crusaders (252-526-8208), Recording Artist Eldress Lessette Kornegay (252-686-1222), Clay Johnson & Unity (252-933-1796), EnterAction youth praise & dance team of Groundbreaker's Ministry (252-286-8612), Recording Artists Yaheveh Concept (252-686-4261), Recording Artist Shacky D (252-521-0117), Crystal Cheyenne (252-361-1596), and Gospel Visionaires (252-286-2838). 
Free Press Article
The night of January 12, 2013, when I finally laid my head on my pillow, I remember feeling like an excited, tired child, after a day of Christmas, still so thrilled after the Veterans Ball.  Yet I also felt something else, not child-like at all, a feeling of senioritis perhaps, but I remember thinking, if I kicked the bucket before I woke, at least it was good knowing some deserving Veterans and their guests had a happy time tonight, and that made me so comfortably contented.  Yes, indeed, the “First Annual Lenoir County Veterans Ball” was a sold-out crowd of happy folks enjoying themselves, so that mission was successfully accomplished leading the way to future annual balls (perhaps even bigger and better!), and catapulting our other endeavors into ACTION mode!
What I am going to say next is going to strike a nerve with some of you, going to anger you at first but please bare with me.  There is a committed slogan of the Armed Forces, “Never leave a fallen comrade.”  My question however is, “Does that only mean don’t leave him or her in a combat area, or does it mean precisely never leave a fallen comrade?”  Statistics qualify the point that too many comrades are left undiagnosed, or insufficiently treated.  They and their family members are severely suffering.  When Marines, Soldiers, American Veterans of all Military Branches, along with Caring Citizens of the Community accept the challenge, we can work toward rescuing the fallen comrades, and be their needed heroes.
     However I now believe God’s timing includes having strong community support and powerful allies, a network of committed people of this chosen area.  Once we establish a community rapport with Active Military, Veterans and the People of Kinston and Lenoir County – once others outside also see this established priority, -when our Citizens see the big picture and buy into it, hook, line and sinker, -when we BELIEVE…when we are willing to not care who the messenger is, or how politically correct or affluent, or typical the program is, when we are willing to strip ourselves of judgmental attitudes and instead of finding fault with who or how, -but to choose, “No matter what anyone else does I plan to join this effort, let God use me, to serve in the battle, -no matter what my age, what my handicaps or talents, -be willing to be a soldier in this fight and make a needed difference,” -when we BELIEVE, with God’s help, we can ACHIEVE!
      Develop a Veterans Pavilion in Kinston to network from– an expansive comfortable place for Active Military and Veterans of all ages to enjoy- to participate in a calendar of exciting events, have guest celebrities, from Hollywood Stars, Famous Athletes, Accomplished Entrepreneurs, Generals and Commanders, Renowned Evangelists, Musicians, Artists, People of significant talent and influence from near and far to entertain, motivate and encourage- as well as activities, contests, BBQ’s, Oyster Roasts…community competitions and fun involvements…  Daily the Veterans Pavilion would be open as a hangout for Active Military and Veterans, -billiards, ping-pong, electronic games, movies, instructional DVD’s, interactive sites, a great study area, work-out section, counseling and treatment area, place for art expression, lot’s of books, resources, and incredible staff that makes each member feel appreciated. And can you even fathom Super Bowl 2014?  A quazillion Veterans and guests all watching a gargantuan screen and hooping and hollering together in fun rivalry, eating, hanging, bonding…!
Active Military and Veterans from other areas would also benefit having membership in the Lenoir County Veterans Pavilion because even if they only frequent it occasionally, the free community sponsored meals, monthly prizes, entertainment and involvements when they do, will make their membership well worth it.  Besides when they, and their family and friends, join in on some of the community events sponsored by the Veterans Pavilion they get free or discounted tickets, plus area restaurants, motels, gyms, and entertainment venues give discounts to Veterans Pavilion members!
Hundreds of active military while in Iraq formerly and more recently in Afghanistan have been committing suicide each year, while thousands of active military and veterans at home in the United States each year have also been taking their own lives. Repetitive deployments increase the risks.  Remaining with ineffective treatment increases the risk.  Being prepped and in an environment for months on end (war zone), whether the person actually is involved in combat or not, but while eating, working, playing, sleeping…always being what I call, ”half-cocked,” ready to trigger, ready to hit the deck, dodge an IED, react in an ambush, save a comrade or even the innocent local child… this constant immersion of the brain chemicals, the fight or flight responses that protect individuals and those they choose to selflessly protect, -this chemical erosion from too long of a period of time actually may cause physical brain changes and injuries in some individuals, often our bravest protectors.
Another effective form of therapy is INVOLVEMENT.  Veterans assisting with activities and needs in the community, teens, seniors, people, helpful projects… utilize their skills, strengths, willingness, talents and compassion while affecting the prosperity of others may positively affect their own strides toward health. A Veterans Pavilion can supply a web to grow other community projects, lot’s of community prosperity.
Also please add to your agendas the March Veterans Challenge Community Program, again the second Monday, also the 11,  then on Saturday, March 23 please attend Lenoir County’s First Annual Veterans Challenge Gospel Fest from 3 to 9:00.  It’s going to be spectacular!  Tickets are just $6 each for six hours of fantastic gospel talent and a $1,000 cash drawing (Must be present to win).  Tickets are discounted to $5 for anyone purchasing their tickets through a Veteran. Children under twelve are free when no more than two are accompanied by an adult.  Bring extra cash to buy CD’s, food, etc. Any group wanting to do a vendor space, call to schedule, agreeing that 10% of sales is donated to Veterans Challenge (for Veterans Pavilion).  One half of proceeds from ticket sales, after performers receive cut, goes to Veterans Challenge toward Veterans Pavilion.  Top prize for selling the most tickets is $200.  Please pass the word, through forwards, social media, personal invites, etc.
Prior to Lenoir County’s First Annual Veterans Ball I boldly proclaimed in The Free Press, “It’s going to be wonderful!”  Now I boldly proclaim, “Lenoir County’s First Annual Veterans Challenge Gospel Fest is going to be spectacular!” – Debby Guthrie
Lenoir County’s First Annual Veteran’s Challenge Gospel Fest
Kids 12 and under free
$1,000 cash drawing prize – ticket holder must be present to win
Tickets can be purchased at the Veterans Challenge Office, 2 door from DMV at Vernon Park Mall
*******Monday, Feb. 11, 7:00 Veterans Challenge Community Meeting 7:00, VPMall
1 Thursdays monthly, American Legion, 7:00 meal & mtg.  Lodge
3 Thursdays monthly, Marine Corps League, 7:00 meal & mtg. Lodge
Saturday, March 23, 3 to 9:00 Veterans Challenge Gospel Fest 3 to 9:00 VPM 
OPINION section of The Free Press /  p 26 Sunday, February 3, 2013
Veterans Ball honored vets with night of fun
     Lenoir County's First Annual Veterans Ball was held for a sold out crowd at the ballroom of Kinston's Hampton Inn on Saturday night, Jan. 12.  Active military, veterans and their guests came from near and far, representing all six branches of the armed forces, men and women aged 25 through 95.  Wars were represented from World War II, Korean conflict, through Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our honored came with one mission - FUN.  By the time the doors opened at 5 p.m. Rick and Jane Vernon began the first of their fabulous repertoire of songs, and the dance floor began hopping, and stayed occupied throughout the night.  It appeared the mission was accomplished, as Betty Moore stated, "The entertainment was wonderful, the food was wonderful, everything was wonderful."
     One gentleman told me, "If your purpose was to honor us, I believe everyone in attendance feels you have done that, and everyone I've talked to say they're having a great time and are looking forward to next year's ball!"
     It was Jennifer Howard's inspiration for Veterans Challenge of Lenoir County to host a Veterans Ball and I delighted in seeing  her and her Marine husband enjoying themselves at it.  I am also so proud this county was so supportive.  I would like to ask our residents to frequent and support the following businesses and thank the people responsible:  Linda Jones and Kinston's Hampton Inn for being so generous in permitting us the ballroom and being so gracious; Rick and Jane Vernon for being so giftedly talented and superb human beings; the monetary donations of William C. Stallings of Stallings Plumbing, Heating & AC of Kinston; and Dr. Kenneth LeRoy Klein of East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery of New Bern; the prizes, gifts and extra services of The Free Press, TACC9, Kinston's DJ Shon Bruingon with Entertainment Xpress; Chef and the Farmer; CoreyCo Roofing; Brown's Treats; O'Reiley's; Walgreen's; Smith's Cafe; Corporate Resources; Cubbie's; Olympian Restaurant; Main Moon; Living Waters International Ministry; Papa John's Pizza; Sherry Wilner Massage Therapist of Bear Town BodyWork, New Bern; and Charles Anderson of Select Food Service.
             Debby Guthrie, Director
by Debby Guthrie
     If you make a stand on one choice or the other, and follow-up with positive action, you are choosing to make a difference that will impact present and future generations substantially.  The alternative, it seems, would be indifference, apathy, and counterproductive to progress.
     As the pitcher of this challenge, I am merely the insignificant servant deploying what I believe to be a concept of divine persuasion; if anytime over the years I have stepped on your toes, you don't have to like me - remember this is not about me, and it's not about you: it's bigger than us.
     This also includes all our past and present city and county political leaders, professionals, Committee of 100, members such as Martin Arthur, Guy Basden, Eric Cantu, Victor Kosinski, Guy Skinner, Herman McLawhorn, Fred Hunneke, Pastor Evelyn Coleman.
     Surely we see the obvious - nobody benefits when more of our businesses close, Vernon Park Mall gives up the ghost and more of our city residents transfer to other locations for employment.
     The increasing wave of local support for veteran events has been so very encouraging.  Sanderson Farms, Spirit AeroSystems, the Woodmen Community Center, the new Veterans Home, HammerOut Crossfit Training Facility - are all remarkable forward steps for this community, but more is needed soon before it's too late.  Of the small number of mall stores remaining, some are hanging on by a thread.
     A segment of this upcoming Monday night's Veterans Challenge community event will be utilized for community input to the Kinston Champion proposal - The Veterans Cay Celebration was so enjoyable we decided to continue the covered-dish idea.  Whether you are a leader in the community yet or not, please feel encouraged to let others know these plans and attend Monday's Veterans Challenge Community Christmas covered dish celebration with a covered dish or 2-liter beverage at 7 p.m. at the former Expressions/Brody's building of Vernon Park Mall.
     Debby Guthrie is the director of Veterans Challenge of Kinston.  You may contact her at  The opinions of the guest column are not necessarily those of The Free press.
Article in / The Free Press Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Debby Guthrie, guest columnist
     Now with voting decisions behind us and the holidays before us, we have Kinston's 250th birthday to deliberate, if we so choose. Here is a gift idea that was shared at the October Veterans Challenge Community Meeting.  Throughout the auditorium, the idea was voted on and approved unanimously.
     City of Kinston utility customers (businesses, churches, organizations and residents) could have the $3 fee included with their bil.  Others could pay the nonprofit donation separately.  Support could be made now, and the actual gift be given starting in January.  The Kinston Champion member would be entitled to voting rights as to how the monies would be spent within the parameters of the plan. 
     1.  A city designated amount could cover cost of collecting this gift
     3.  A percentage of number of Kinston Champion Members (regardless of needy or wealthy) will be drawn monthly for $100 paid toward their utilities, or a $100 shopping gift card to the Kinston business of their choice.  For example: if half of the approximately 11,800 City of Kinston utility customers become Kinston Champion Members, then 40 $100 gift drawings could be made each month
    5.  Monthly community contests can be scheduled for the year for any and all to take part in, with age and other categories, and a top $1,000 prize to work toward
     6.  Seven-minute quality DVD's, and a one-page flyer will be made of successful Kinstoninans for school, library and media use, as well as to sell copies to the public
     8.  An annual presentation with high-value gift, awarded to a law enforcement officer voted on by Kinston Champion members
     10.  Kinston Champion Bucks - after volunteers donate seven hours to designated Kinston aesthetic projects, they can begin earning Kinston bucks for themselves or others, toward special shopping, utilities, etc.
     *  Turning the former Expressions/Brody's building of Vernon Park Mall into a fantastic Veterans Pavilion - where active military, reservists, Kinston veterans and American veterans from anywhere can become members, for a $7 per month membership fee, use the extensive vast facilities, labs, billiards, games, services, come to all the events free, enjoy a full calendar of activities, cookouts, celebrity appearances - and simply hang out with other veterans and their guests
     *  Many other projects to web out in Vernon Park Mall that entails various former store sites for seniors, toddlers, kids, and adults and including a "Kinston's Got Talent" show place
     *The vacant car lot on the opposite side of Hwy 70 into an "extreme park" with skateboarding, motor-cross, four-wheel courses etc....and the list goes on.
     Please show your support of having a Kinston Champion membership project as outlined, by emailing listing the subject "Kinston Champion" and including your name, email address and comments or signing a support document at a Veterans Challenge Community Meeting (Nov. 12, or Dec. 10) or at the Veterans Challenge office, second door from DMV, or mailing to Veterans Challenge K-4 Vernon Park Mall 834 Hardee Rd. Kinston, NC  28504.
Debby Guthrie is the director of Veterans Challenge in Kinston.  You may contact her at  The opinions of the guest columnist are not necessarily those of The Free Press.
We try to fill in the gap, whether it be by referrals, or direct assistance, for crisis needs or information, mental health assessments, home evictions, utility disruptions, job needs, spiritual guidance and ministry invitations, community involvement through fun activities and providing information...(We schedule appointments for qualifying veterans to get hearing aides, glasses, pensions (aide and assistance benefits), compensations or upgrades,  access grants to do handicap improvements on their home (owned or rental), use VA benefits to buy, refinance, or build a home -(no down payment 100% guaranteed), use Patriot Express or other veteran loan products to get small business loans up to $500,000! (1st phases with no collateral!), use educational benefits, including VRAP for veterans age 35 - 60 for continuing education and technical training (pays $1,436/mo. for one year while unemployed veteran attends), access scholarship for veterans and war dependents, encouraging veterans first employment (great incentives for employers), ...working toward many projects including a Military Memoirs book, and an effort to promote veteran authorship and publication, as well as promoting veteran inventions, talents, and many community enhancement projects.) 
Veterans Challenge encourages small business for any member of the community.  Whether one is a veteran or not, the SBA (Small Business Administration) has express loans (one as new as June 2012) that requires a one-page application submission with small loans for anyone eighteen years of age or older for amounts in increments of $5,000 to $25,000.  There is no collateral required and  qualifying applicant may receive the check in two weeks. The payments are $71 /mo. for $5,000, and multiply that times the number borrowed for larger amounts, such as payments for a $20,000 loan would be 4 x $71 or $284.  Each six months of timely payments may entitle borrower to upgrade the loan to next larger amount.  The program also has a free credit repair program for those wanting to borrow for a small business loan but not yet credit worthy.
Thank you sincerely for any assistance you choose to take part in.
Some of the Extra Supportive Veterans, Other Persons of the Community, Businesses & Organizations we Greatly Appreciate  (May God bless you and yours' extra!):
 Kinston can live up to romantic ideals I wonder how many of your readers know that long before couples used to meet on websites, there was something called, "Mail order catalog." My grandparents met that way. My grandmother, formerly Ruby Mae Tripp, was a school marm in a one-room schoolhouse between Kinston and Ayden. My granddaddy, (Samuel Thompson) a Texan, and soldier in the U.S. Calvary, fought with other of his Army comrades, and came back to the States with hopes of settling down. Letters between him and my grandma were not the instantaneous responses of today's courters, but nevertheless, the spark blossomed.
He was wearing his cowboy boots and 10-gallon hat and said when he stepped out of the exit of the train and looked around, there were several young ladies peering at him, but one beautiful young lady edged toward him, with the prettiest long petticoats, and the most gorgeous big blue eyes he'd ever seen peer out from the brim of her bonnet. He had seen many people in various parts of the world and traveled many days and nights to meet this penpal he fell infatuated with through her words and responses. And now he was so thrilled that she exceeded his expectations.
My kids, Charity, Jeremiah and Merry Faith, grew up with Kinston coaches, preachers and teachers shaping their lives. I'm appreciative of the positive role-models that have impacted our lives, the people that make the difference. After 16 years here my family is invested.
Please attend  Monday night, October 8th, from 7 to 9:00, at the GATE auditorium, (corner of McLewean & Gordon-near post office-across from American Legion Lodge) the Veterans Challenge Community Meeting for military,veterans and the public. Entertainment is by the dynamic EnterAction youth dance team ministry. The Greene Central ROTC is scheduled to present colors. There will be exciting information that effects every man, woman and child (and especially teens) of Kinston and surrounding areas, refreshments, prizes, and challenges. You will be appreciated and are very much needed. The Veterans Challenge Office is located at: Vernon Park Mall (near food court, 2nd from DMV) Our motto: Promoting the health & prosperity of veterans & the community!"
pg. 34 Sunday, September 9, 2012
Veterans Hurting and need your help
      I wonder if your readers know that war is within our borders, that more lives of our trained armed forces are taken by mental health symptoms of war than by combat, that every eight minutes, an American veteran dies of suicide.  Eight percent of Americans are military veterans, yet one out of five suicides in this nation is veterans.  The Department of Veterans Affairs reports approximately 6,000 veteran suicides annually and that July 2012 was the highest recorded occurrence of veteran suicides (Army and Marine).
     Proper diagnosis, proper treatment of veterans (including educating the veteran's family members, clergy, emergency response personnel and public leaders about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other ailments) and proper compensation, might prevent many of these hardships, as well as high incidence among veterans of divorce, unemployment, foreclosure and homelessness.
     A New York Times article (Lizzette 11-17-08) entitled "New Veterans Hit Hard by Economic Crisis," indicated, "While few Americans are sheltered from the jolt of the recent economic crisis, the nation's newest veterans, particularly the wounded, are being hit especially hard.  The triple whammy of injury, unemployment and waiting for disability claims to be processed has forced many veterans into foreclosure, or sent them teetering on its edge."
     Veterans Challenge is an endeavor committed to networking with veteran organizations, community leaders, businesses and citizens to assist with these concerns as well as promote the accomplishments and impact of successful veterans, while utilizing their talents for the betterment of the community.  Please encourage your readers to attend the Veterans Challenge Community Meeting at 7 p.m.  Monday at the former Expressions?Brody's building of Vernon Park Mall.
     My tattoo: "Live a life of love as He loves us..." Ephesians 5:2
Guest Column:
by Debby Guthrie
Do you think the biblical stories and scriptures are for a history lesson or entertainment or do you believe they are to empower us today?  Do you believe Lenoir County, less than a pin-dot on a map of the world, could be a place God would use to make a global impact? Does it sound too outrageous to even entertain?  Why?
Whatever privilege we enjoy may put more responsibility on us to use our talents and blessings for the betterment of mankind.  We may have more divine purpose than we give ourselves credit for.
But alas, who am I?  I know so few people, and have no title of authority, renowned capabilities, no political influence or speaking affluence, no platform or way to make these strategies known, and am financially struggling to survive myself, so I have no monetary advantage.
Finally, I got a sign - actually on a sign - and it grasped me so powerfully I had to pull over on the side of the road.  It was a marquee at Neuse Baptist Church: "God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called."
But how?  I talked with my eldest adult child, Charity, about ideas for Veterans Challenge, and she agreed we should delve into it.  I risked getting an office and attending trainings, and I began volunteer work assisting veterans.
Some would indicate our ideals qualify as having significant community impact but need substantiation of monetary continuance, etc.
Charity and I decided to appeal to the community and we held our first Veterans Challenge Community meeting in May.  I was pleased that 40 people attended and our message was started.  At our fourth monthly community meeting on Aug. 13, someone counting said the attendance was 240!  I thanked the Lord for all the encouraging faces and the hope and excitement for potential they gave us.
We need your support.  Don't feel like this isn't about you or doesn't involve you.  There is so much to do and something most anyone can be a part of.  Please attend our events and invite your relatives and neighbors.  If you can email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or use other social media outlets, please spread the invitations and information.  To copy and paste from our website would be so helpful.
We need companies, schools, etc. to encourage their employees to purchase their lunch from our fund raiser.  On the same evening of Sept. 14, we are also hosting a "Music for Unity" entertainment benefit from 7-11 p.m. at the former Expressions/Brody's building. 
We are also seeking pledges and corporate sponsors to turn the expansive Expressions/Brody's building into a wonderful Veterans Pavilion.
Please pray about your part and check out our website at, volunteer, attend the functions and watch what God will do if we will just believe (with even faith the size of a mustard seed.)
Debby Guthrie is director of Veterans Challenge, Inc, in the Kinston Enterprise Center, Suite 306.  Reach her at 252-933-3540 or The opinions of the guest columnist are not necessarily those of The Free Press.
Debby Guthrie
I was not talking with kids on June 11th, when at the Veterans Challenge community meeting I asked for the assembly's support in a very high aspiration.  Some of you may pooh and say it's impossible, but these folks accepted the challenge and signed what may appear  a lofty proposal.  Signatures of veterans and other community leaders frame the proclamation, including such names as beloved Commissioner Jackie Brown and our elected Chairman of the Lenoir County Commissioners George W. Graham.  I explained some of the projects we are working on ("that effect every man, woman and child of this community") that coincide so wonderfully with the tremendous endeavors that have already been happening.
The motto of Veterans Challenge is "Promoting the health and prosperity of veterans and the community."  Some counties have a beach, lake, mountain, big university, (military base), amusement park, legislature building...  Lenoir County has... a lot, but how do you describe this area?  What prompts people to come and stay?  If your kids bring someone home from the base or from their college, what would that guest, a young adult, see and do here on an odd weekend?  How would they describe this area to someone else?  What is it that would keep more of our kids in our county to raise their families?  How can we make our county more healthy and prosperous?
Now do the math.  Some veterans live in large households but let's say on the average each veteran has a spouse and two kids - that's 28,000, approximately half of our population!
So the soldiers entertained the townspeople by building a fire and stirring water in a huge cooking pot.  They started by adding smooth stones, and said it would be even better with some salt and pepper, which someone supplied, and indeed this stone soup would be fit for the king himself if we just had...
Lenoir County is rich in history, has wonderful parks, a terrific recreation program, wonderful events, many fantastic people, wonderful churches, terrific veteran organizations, a new veterans home, Woodmen of the World Center- so much, yet so many people are struggling just to survive.  I don't want to bang on the door of a business to ask for a donation and find a door shut because too many have already asked and they turn me down (like in the story, "They all had good reasons.")
Others offered prizes for our community meetings.  Veteran organizations have been permitting speakers from Veterans Challenge to pass the word, and we've been "hooking up" veterans, veteran widows and specialists to utilize their benefits more readily, applying for and securing compensations, pensions, hearing aides, home improvement grants, educational benefits and small business loans!
Debby Guthrie is founder and director of Veterans Challenge in Kinston.  The opinions of the guest columnist are not necessarily those of The Free Press.
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