LaFayette honors veterans at the health and wellness center

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023

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LaFayette’s veterans were treated to a celebration on Saturday at the Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center. At the end of the program, 95-year-old veteran Reverand James Wright surprised the group with a jazz performance. 

Fire Chief James Doody said the program had a great turnout, especially for the bad weather.

“It was a really good day,” Doody said. 

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The program was organized by the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Debra Ward from the health and wellness center. The Auburn University Rural Health Project, Women’s Ministry Auxiliary and Chambers County Health and Wellness Center also sponsored the event. 

Doody, himself a veteran, said they were excited to have an event to honor the veterans of older generations in the area. He said they hope to continue hosting it each year.

‘They deserve it,” Doody said. “… I see it getting bigger and better every year.”

Commander of the Twin Cities Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Ron Douglass spoke to the veterans during the program. He has been a member of the DAV for 31 years. He assists veterans with their disability claims with the Veteran’s Administration (VA).

Shalissa Grantham from the VA Community Outreach also spoke to the veterans about resources. She spoke about resources for homeless veterans and seeking help for suicide prevention. 

Doody said Grantham hopes to be able to get it set up for local veterans to come to the health and wellness center for their veteran check-ups rather than driving to Tuskegee. 

“We’re building that bridge with the VA and the health center,” Doody said.

The health and wellness center had the highest number of consultation visits in October since opening with 82 visits. Since mid-November, the OnMed telehealth station has had over 40 visits and is on track to break another record. 

“We knew it would be good, but we didn’t know it would be this good this fast,” Doody said. 

The Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center is a program in partnership with Auburn University Rural Health Project, the City of LaFayette and the Chambers County Commission. 

Several Auburn departments are involved with the project, including the School of Nursing, Pharmacy, Chambers County Extension Office and more. The group was recently honored with the President’s Outstanding Collaborative Units award at the faculty award ceremony.

The health and wellness center in LaFayette is just the first of many that the Auburn Rural Health Project plans to have. The project has won a grant to build centers in other rural Alabama counties. 

“It’s not what we do here. It’s what we can do in other rural counties,” Doody said. 

Valley High School and LaFayette High School colorguard students began the program with the presentation of colors. The Mighty Marching Bulldogs LaFayette High School band performed America the Beautiful near the end of the program. 

Auburn University graduate student Abigail Weyerman gave the pledge of allegiance at the program.