Roanoke, VA- Four area mayors are teaming up to create a regional veterans celebration this fall. The weekend-long event will be called the Blue Ridge Veterans Celebration.
The event it was created around the annual Virginia Veterans Parade in Roanoke. Organizers say expanding the event will make way for more veterans to be recognized.
It will also help raise funds for veterans and support groups.
J. B. Kerns, 22, knows how lonely life after war can be.
"I'm not going to formation in the morning or running P. T. with my platoon. Sometimes you get lost, and you don't really know what to do with yourself," said J. B. Kerns, a corporal with the U.S. Marine Corp.
He lost both legs and an arm from an IED in Afghanistan. He says the hometown welcome he received lifted his spirit.
"It meant a lot to me for the community to show their support, and show they are supporting our veterans not only me," said Kerns.
Now Mayors from Bedford, Vinton, Roanoke, and Salem want to extend that feeling to other veterans in the area with the Blue Ridge Veterans Celebration.
"We want to invite the Roanoke Valley veterans, the 25,000, and their families to participate but also first responders, and current members of the United States military as well," David Bowers, Mayor of Roanoke.
The celebration will also help raise funds for Kerns and veteran's organizations like Virginia Wounded Warriors and the Military Family Support Center.
"We have some of our service families where they have come back and the breadwinner doesn't have a job so we have a pantry that supplies some food," said Roger Talmadge, president and CEO of Military Family Support Center.
The event will start November 9 with a tour of the National D-Day Memorial, followed by the annual Virginia Veterans Parade in Roanoke Saturday, culminating with a non-denominational church service on Veterans Day.
"I think the more we have involved, the more people know about what our veterans gives to us," said Bowers.
Next month, organizers are hosting a 5k run to raise money for Kerns and two veterans support organizations.
The race is September 9 and is $25 to register. Learn more here.