Making the Connection Last
Alabama Veteran is beyond busy in the community. First, we started with the simple, most basic of Veteran needs, a social community free of the obstacles. Providing our Veterans with a heightened level of connectivity- not just to other Veterans and resources, but to the community. This in itself was no easy task, but with it came a reward more generous than we could have ever expected.
Through the work of establishing a community introduced us to many veteran perspectives, to new lifelong friends and to network partners who’ve been busy in the trenches for years, filling the gap between traditional and non-existent resources. Examples of these resources come in the form of Jeremy Hogan and Saving Forgotten Warriors, Patrick Johnson and The Homeless Veteran Initiative of Alabama, Eric Fort with the Lone Warriors, and many, many others. Saving Forgotten Warriors and The Homeless Veterans Initiative of Alabama are Veteran operated resources who are best known for their unique ability to effectively engage with and support Veterans in distress. Focusing on providing for the immediate needs of Veterans, crisis response and helping Veterans connect with behavior health services, transitional housing and more. These two organizations provide Veterans with often critical and lifesaving resources.
Other organizations like Fort’s Lone Warriors and Lacy Gunnoe’s Birmingham Chapter of Team Red White and Blue serve as community level beacons, responsible for guiding Veterans to connecting in the community after service. Gunnoe’s efforts with Team Red White and Blue uses fitness as a means for social connection, Fort focuses on therapy through photography in order to engage Veterans suffering from PTSD in a healthy lifesaving outlet.
There is a lot to be said about Veterans stepping up to take care of their own. Although each mission is unique to its design, it’s the concept of Veterans Serving Veterans that make them each a win. So, Alabama Veteran networks, informs, and shares.
From there we focus on what everyone is doing and how we could supplement each other to create something unique and equally important. After-all, Alabama Veteran isn’t in it to reinvent the wheel. We want to support the system, involve the community, make it stronger, and make it last. With prevalent issues, not surface issues, but the big ticket ones plaguing our communities- such as Homelessness and lack of connectivity, we set off to build upon our social community effort by going from the World Wide Web to Envivo- another difficult, but equally rewarding task. Our mission, Everything Veteran includes COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. It’s a focus we believe in and one that can easily involve our community who simply doesn’t know how to reach and access its Veterans.
Last month, we held a few events. Although extremely taxing, when coupled with the demands of daily 9 to 5s, we were still able to make the connection rewarding. We held a total of two events and an out-of-state recreational event. Our networking events have been a hit for area Veterans. Our Hoover event saw representation from nearly every Veteran organization in the area under the same roof! We even had a father son Combat Veteran duo come through representing American Legion Post 911 of Hoover, Alabama.
Our goal is to eventually connect Veterans with community members and business professionals in the area. We are looking to host another networking event here in the near future, if you’re interested in attending please contact Admin@Alveteran.org for an official RSVP.
Recreational Therapy Events
When we talk about creating strong-bonds between Veterans through recreational therapy events, no one has it nailed down like our partners down off the Eastern Coast of Florida. Recently, they flew us and multiple Veterans from across the states to participate in a week long beach side retreat.
Their team rolled out the red carpet and welcomed us in style. From our arrival to our departure we were in the company of first responders, police escorts, volunteers, and prior service Veterans who made this event one for the books. Our event began with sitting down with its founder of the organization. He was more than happy to show us the ins and outs of their model of service. He shared with us countless successes of his annual Veterans appreciation event. He shared how both happy and troubled warriors arrived for participate, and how happy, recharged, and refreshed warriors always left. He also shared the reward of seeing failing couples reconnect out on the water and their continued praise for giving them the space to give their families one more shot at hope. Our mission is to replicate similar efforts here in the rolling outback’s of the Crimson Tide and grassy fields of Wildcat Country. This is a great example of life saving non-traditional service work that can be done in Alabama.
The event went without incident until Day 3 when we were summoned by the staff in the early morning for a surprise breakfast (?). What the crew did not know was that not only was this a retreat to the beach, but that we would be getting the opportunity to enjoy some good offshore fishing as well. This was truly an unexpected surprise, and with that we were off board our Cadillacs at the marina. The Alabama group was definitely one to put a dent on that ocean floor, but I’m sure we would agree to not have expected otherwise. The Alabama group ended up with only two of three Veterans able to make it, one a triple amputee who relocated to and was flown from North Carolina, and another was an OEF Veteran who suffered multiple gunshot wounds. All-in-all this was a great 5 day retreat and opportunity to learn best practices and a model to help us create this opportunity here in Alabama.
The camaraderie and fellowship was one of a kind and I personally could not have spent my time in better company- that my friends, is connection.
Veteran groups across Alabama have remained engaged being servant leaders in their communities. The works by Hogan, Fort, and Johnson serve as a standing example of service after the service. Alabama Veteran would like to personally ask that any patriotic Americans, community members, or organizations who are interested in helping us deliver what was shown to us in Florida here in the state contact us via: Admin@AlVeteran.org .
Whether it’s bringing a Veteran along with you to Talladega, donating a ticket, or serving as a mentor to one of over 60,000+ Veterans in the just the Birmingham area we would like to match you up with an opportunity to connect with or to support Veterans. Please follow our monthly blog series at: www.alveteran.org, share it with your friends, and as always let us know how we’re doing in the comments section.