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Classic Horse Show to benefit American Legion

Jamey Vicars • Jun 9, 2019 at 12:00 PM

The 50th East Tennessee Walking Horse Classic Horse Show will be held June 15, and proceeds from the show will go to the American Legion Hammond Post 3 Honor Guard in Kingsport.

The horse show will begin at 5 p.m. at the South Central Ruritan Ball Park in Chuckey. Admission is $5, and children 12 and under will be admitted free.

The Hammond Post 3 Honor Guard provides military graveside services for families of veterans in Kingsport and surrounding areas, but this is the first in a long list of services they provide.

American Legion Hammond Post 3 in Kingsport was chartered in July 1919 and has supported veterans in Kingsport, Sullivan County and counties in Southwest Virginia for nearly 100 years.

An important program sponsored by Post 3 is the Sullivan County Veterans Service Office. The office provides services to veterans, such as filing for VA benefits for: compensation, dependency compensation, health care, aid and attendance, death benefits and VA appeals. The office costs $32,000 a year to operate, with veterans from Post 3 providing $24,000 a year to the office to ensure veterans get the help they need. The rest of the cost is covered by Sullivan County. The office provides services for an average of 70 to 85 veterans a month, many of whom would not get help with these services otherwise.

One of the busiest groups in Post 3 is the Honor Guard. The Honor Guard performs military graveside services at funerals in a 100-mile radius of Kingsport, no matter the weather: rain or shine, hot or cold. These services are provided at no cost. The operation costs of providing the services include van transportation, van maintenance and insurance, fuel, rifle ammunition and uniform purchase and maintenance.

“We do this horse show to raise money for them (the Honor Guard). They do three or four funerals a day, sometimes as many as six. There is no funding for this, and all costs come out of pocket. It’s really a labor of love for these fellas,” said Ronnie Starnes, member of Hammond Post 3.

Hammond Post 3 also supports several youth programs in Kingsport each year. An oratorical contest on constitutional amendments is held every year in which local winners are qualified to compete at state and national contests for scholarships up to $10,000.

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