Ceremonies, parades and memorials honoring veterans today are the more recognizable sights on Veterans Day, but some local veterans use the day to focus attention on their comrades' needs.
From Monday through Wednesday, the Mobile Vet Center stopped at the Kimball, Dayton and Chattanooga campuses of Chattanooga State Community College to educate veterans on benefits and services available to them.
Nearby, veteran groups and military recruiters answered questions.
"With our club, we're trying to raise awareness more often than twice a year," said Mary Potter, 25, Air Force veteran and a student at the local campus of Chattanooga State.
While holiday celebrations have their place on Veterans Day in November and Memorial Day in May, Potter said the public would do better to get involved with veterans issues year-round.
She suggested that those interested in supporting veterans look at volunteer groups that help with the Vet Center, support legislation that funds veterans services and keep an open mind to obstacles that combat veterans may face during readjustment when they return home.
On Wednesday at the local Chattanooga State campus, the Mobile Vet Center drew veterans who served during World War II, the Vietnam War and in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mickey King, 61, and Mickey Caradine, 65, both Vietnam War veterans, heard about the center's visit and decided to find out what benefits might be available.
"I never did think that much about it, but there are a lot of veterans out there that need this information and need to know about it," King said.
Each learned about health care and other benefits, which they previously didn't know they were eligible to use.
Caradine said that, when he left the Army after serving in Vietnam, the government didn't share a lot of information about what was available for veterans.
"You had to seek it," he said.
Those benefits can be crucial and go beyond the well-known education benefits such as the GI Bill. Home loans, counseling and medical services, job assistance, family support and burial benefits are some of the programs the mobile center's staff discusses with veterans.
Nick Erwin, a 27-year-old Marine Corps veteran who was wounded during his service, said he faced problems finding a job after he left the military.
"The stereotypes are horrible," he said.
Some employers see recent veterans as "crazy vets" because of the current wars, he said.
Medical rehabilitation and other veterans services led him to his current career goal when he finishes school -- counseling disabled children.
Ronnie Roberts, a counselor with the Mobile Vet Center, said the RV travels from Johnson City, Tenn., throughout eastern Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. The vehicle is one of 50 mobile vet centers across the United States.
Typically, it parks at a Walmart or other busy local spot for visibility, he said, but being able to come to college campuses and reach out to younger veterans helps bridge gaps in coverage.
"We help them find resources, the benefits and counseling," he said.
Chattanooga State's on-campus Veterans Club formed three years ago to help faculty and staff understand veterans' needs while also connecting veterans who can help each other.
Karen Ackerly, 52, is a retired Marine and second-year student at the college who works as secretary of the club. The group helps new student veterans with simple things such as finding their way around campus, she said, or telling them what resources are available at the local counseling center and outpatient clinic.