PALM COAST — Supporting the nation’s military veterans has surged to the forefront for many Americans in the run-up to Veterans Day on Saturday.

Attending the inaugural Veterans Appreciation Breakfast, hosted Thursday by the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Navy Capt. Dale Maxey was overwhelmed by the response from members of the Flagler County business community upon walking through the doors of the Grand Haven Golf Club as the morning’s keynote speaker.

Surrounded by veterans from every walk of life, the 32-year career officer understands the importance of recognizing those who serve, especially on Veterans Day.

“It’s an opportunity to chat with a great group of veterans and I’m happy to have the opportunity to come down from Mayport,” Maxey said. “Just by the demographics in this room, the people who have some connection to the military, our connection is huge. Veterans Day just happens to be the one day we can come back and say thanks to those people.”

Event guests were encouraged to bring a veteran with them for the breakfast and local mortgage specialist Sam Royer, a former Marine, brought along Army Sgt. Charles Hoffman for the morning’s celebration.

“We’re friends and we actually run together on a team called RWB (Red, White and Blue),” said Royer.

Hoffman, a member of the National Guard stationed at Flagler Executive Airport, said he finds moments like these priceless.

“We love it,” said Hoffman. “We love Palm Coast. (The community) has welcomed us with open arms and everyone is excited about us being here. Soldiers used to get spit on in (the Vietnam era) and now they love us. It’s people like Sam here who take care of us.”

The event was led by Chamber of Commerce chairman Jimmy Millhollin, a Navy veteran, who saw an opportunity for the organization to engage the Flagler County's veterans through outreach events and programs.

“Today is a couple of days before Veterans Day and I wanted to make sure the Chamber recognized its business veterans out there and also those veterans that are close to them,” said Millhollin. “We want to show them appreciation for everything they have sacrificed over the time they’ve served.

“With all of the veterans we have that are business owners, we do have a special bond together,” he said. “We have different segments of the community that recognize veterans, however at the Chamber we have not really recognized veterans in and of itself, and this is a critical item for veterans regarding the benefits for veteran-owned businesses.”