A few days before Veterans Day, 2015

Yesterday we set up the table for Oro Valley Veterans Support Initiative, at our local Farmers’ Market, as we do nearly every first Saturday of each month, and there were more people stopping to talk and ask questions, than we’ve ever had before. It was a very busy day at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley.  The Harvest Festival was happening, with a big craft fair, pony rides, etc, so the place was hopping, and it was lovely to see the wide variety of people who stopped to talk/listen, and get information from us. It kept three of us busy all morning and into the afternoon.
I love it that Veterans of every age and ilk, disposition and political temperament approach us, and that we offer the same thoughtfulness and excellence in information to each of them, no matter who they are, or how differing our personal views are on very basic things, such as war and peace. We have set a good example of kindness and inclusiveness that crosses any and all boundaries of alienation. I’m grateful for that.
We can have a Vietnam Veteran against any and all use of military, now that he has experienced war, and along side of him/her is someone who may still be actively serving, fresh back from Afghanistan, or retired and served proudly, during the Cold War, or Korea or WWII or Vietnam, and would sign up again in an instant. None of that matters.
We want to make sure that no matter what, these Veterans know they are well thought of, and can have access to good care and thoughtful assistance, in whatever areas they require assistance. And, we simply want them to know we are glad that they are home, and that we stand ready to be useful to them as they make however long a transition it takes, for them to fully return to their community.
Sometimes the difficulties they face don’t even show up for a few years after returning, and then they begin to get hit by the impact of their experiences with the force of a ton of bricks. Often a loved one will confide that their loved one has suffered for many years, in silence, seen by all, but acknowledged by no one, including the soldier themselves.
The work is massive, and it cannot be understated how many Veterans AND their families and friends are impacted for life, by the consequences of that one Veteran being in the midst of conflict.
Of course, that is NOT the only focus of our work, but it is always lurking around the corners of what we do, and in the background of many of our efforts.
What I have gotten to do, since helping to establish our OVVSI, has been incredibly humbling. With luck, I’ll be able to continue doing this kind of work for many years. I love the people, and am grateful to each Veteran who lets me see who they are, even a tiny bit.

Sandra Briney

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