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Benefit skeet shoot raises money for veterans' center in Rome

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Benefit skeet shoot raises money for veterans' center in Rome
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VERNON, N.Y. — Some people in Oneida County took their best shot at fundraising for veterans this Memorial Day Weekend at the 6th Annual Wounded Warrior Benefit Shoot.

It was a day of skeet shooting, raffles and chicken barbecues at Vernon National Shooting Preserve, all to help and honor the brave members of the armed forces.

"You value their service and the effort they put forth, regardless of your politics or what party you are," said Sue Marcy, a member of the preserve. She didn't shoot this year, but still came out to show support.

"I worry, as every Marine mom does," said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford. "But this is a weekend we honor those who have fallen serving our great country and protecting our freedoms, and so it's an honor for me to know he's serving like so many before him."

There are about 10,000 vets living in Oneida County. For veterans everywhere. homelessness, joblessness and suicide rates are high, and according to the https://www.facebook.com/RomeMarinesVeteransCenterInc>Rome Marines Veterans Center, vets aren't given a lot of information about benefits and transitions when they leave the service.

"What our veterans' center is doing, it's creating a bridge between the veterans who are coming home and some of our senior veterans and the VA," said Daniel Berkhoudt, Rome Marine Veterans Center vice president, and a Marine veteran himself.

The center isn't fully operational yet. It still needs an HVAC system. The money raised Sunday will go towards that cost. That way they can start helping more recent veterans by the end of August.

"The guys coming back today, the economy is hurting. The jobs that were there at the end of World War II, Korea are no longer around," said Berkhoudt. "When you're a veteran you should not have a want. You should not have to be out begging for food."

The burnt-out building off of Erie Boulevard that will house the center was purchased five years ago and it's been a slow process getting it together. Once it's up and running, they hope to house the local chapter of "Feed Our Vets," a food pantry just for veterans.

People at the benefit say they can't wait for the center to open and help those who fought for America's freedom.

"The fact that they were away from their family and did stuff for their country, I just don't think there's a bigger sacrifice than that," said Marcy.

The Veterans Center encourages people who are out at Memorial Day parades to remember not only the sacrifice of fallen military members, but of the mothers and fathers they left behind.

The center will also include a studio to record veterans' stories for the Library of Congress.

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