VFW on the front lines domestically

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Our veterans of foreign wars are on the front lines here on the home front, especially here in South Mississippi at the Mark Seymour VFW Post 5699 in Ocean Springs.

A lot has changed since the Ocean Springs VFW opened its doors in 1946, but the mission remains the same-honoring our veterans and the memory of those who have since passed including Mark Seymour, the namesake of VFW Post 5699, a cause close to the heart of the post’s new commander Lela Breman who wound up here in South Mississippi three years ago. “On my way here, I had a family member pass away, and I had some trouble. I reached out to this Post, and not knowing anything about me, they stepped up and helped me get here.  I actually met with an Auxiliary member. She took care of me. I knew this was a home I wanted to be a part of. They knew nothing about me except that I was a veteran and they took care of me. This is definitely a home, I tell other veterans, come see us. Come be a part of us. We are here to support one another.”

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This VFW post is also a second home to Lucia Barberena who has learned much from her patriotic friends here who were on hand as the 17-year-old donated a hand-made receptacle to retire old and tattered flags. “One of the reasons I chose a flag drop off box is out of love and respect for the country, I decided it would be a great way to respect the flag and also respect those who have served us. I contacted Ms. Lela. She loved the idea, so we decided to work together on the box.”

Bremen is the first female commander of VFW Post 5699, but what matters most here is comradery and everyone’s ties to the service, past and present. ” We are the voice for our fellow veterans. We are in D.C. speaking for our fellow veterans, pushing for the correct care of our veterans.”

They’re preparing for a food drive for all of our local veterans. “We have boxes placed throughout the community to do collections. On September 19th, we’re going to do a mobile food drive. We want veterans to come up, pull up in their car and we’re going to give them some food to help them out. Everybody’s struggling during this time, and as I stated, we take care of our veterans, and that’s what we want to do.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!

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