Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Doing something locally for veterans

Veterans' Day is not your typical holiday. We don't much say "Happy Veterans' Day" to our friends and neighbors because it's not an occasion for shopping or for gifts or festive meals. There's a place inside us that recognizes that an awful lot of our veterans are far from happy and the events they have witnessed are dreadful and mostly not occasions for celebration.

We go to the parade, maybe, or buy a poppy from the American Legion, or say thank you to a vet we know personally. But we don't go much beyond that.

Coincidentally, today was the day I met with J., the mother of an Afghanistan vet who came home with PTSD and is currently receiving heavyduty treatment at a VA hospital in Oregon. J has been frustrated that so few services are available for vets on our end of the island and I am interested in helping her.

We met over at Island Cafe for an hour or so and hatched a plan with short-term and long-term goals. I'm going to identify those within my congregation who have ties to the military---either on active or retired status, former military, military families, former military brats, the whole spectrum---in hopes of finding a core group of UUs to help. Then we're going to schedule a get-together to talk about how we can help, what we can offer to this budding effort.

Once we have a working group which includes folks from my congregation, possibly other congregations, secular organizations and VFW and American Legion, therapists/artists/musicians/whoever wants to help, we're going to find funding to help us set up a local alcohol-free drop-in center with a pool table, a coffee machine, some furniture, etc., where vets can hang out with each other.

We UUs often say "we support the troops---bring them home", but once they're home we aren't very realistic about what they need. I hope we'll be able to offer them something once they get here.


Kari said...

My mom holds a peace vigil every week on a street corner in her town with a number of fellow UUs. Recently a man approached and asked her "what have you ever done for the vets?" She answered. "Well I am a vet, I served in the WAC, and every week I volunteer one full day at the VA hospital."

Shut the man up fast. He sent a box twice a year.

We can all learn a lesson here. What can we each do? Great blog, Kit. See you Sunday!

ms. kitty said...

Sounds like you have a great Mom!