Polk County commemorates September with military and emergency preparedness initiatives

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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Board recognizes veterans, first responders and lives lost


POLK COUNTY—At the Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, September 5, the board declared September to be Military Suicide Awareness Month. The board also declared September as Prisoners of War and Missing In Action Month, Remembrance of September 11 Month and Emergency Preparedness Month.

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Chairman Tommy Melton, a veteran himself, declared September 20 Military Suicide Awareness Day in Polk County. Melton cited that on average, a military veteran takes their own life every 60 minutes. 

“Veterans may feel stress about the experience they had in their service. This is entirely normal and you’re not alone,” said Melton. “Military personnel are encouraged to seek help to restore balance in their lives as well as the lives of their families.”

President of the Polk County Memorial Auxiliary to VFW Post #9116 Joyce B. Preston also proposed that September be recognized as Prisoners of War and Missing In Action Month in Polk County. On September 15, the Polk County Courthouse, post offices and other government facilities will fly the black and white Prisoner of War banner “as a reminder about the obligation to always remember the sacrifices made for [our] nation.”

VFW Commander Mike Collins then spoke to the Board regarding making September a month of remembrance for the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. Collins asked to remember the fatalities that occurred, as well as the efforts of first responders, by “coming together as a nation and seizing all work and other activities for a moment” at 1 p.m. on September 11. 

Lastly, Emergency Management Director Bobby Arledge proposed declaring September as Emergency Preparedness Month. Arledge said that in 2022, North Carolina experienced 21 tornado touchdowns, 74 flood incidents and 951 severe thunderstorms with damaging wind and hail. Arledge urged Polk citizens to “create an emergency supply plan and stay informed to help preparedness and make personal responsibility a priority, and Polk County residents should know the risk for their area and stay informed.”

Motions to pass the declarations of recognition all passed unanimously.