Sunday, December 9, 2018

Service Project: JJ - "Volunteering for this helped me in ways that are sometimes hard to explain"

“When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.
            -Jens Stoltenberg

The forgotten soldiers that gave their souls and bodies to fight for freedom in a country where the citizens of our country take their liberties for granted. I decided to sign up for a Veterans Diner as volunteer for the extra credit to be honest and ended up leaving with feeling of accomplishment and gratitude. This was also an easy decision for me, as I am also a veteran and can relate to the hardships that envelope the lives of those affected from war. When the opportunity to volunteer for something that involves military veterans, it hits close to home for me, and  I was more than happy to sign up.  I chose to purchase and cook green beans with slabs of bacon in them for extra flavor. Luckily, my beautiful wife was there to save the day and the kitchen because my green beans had a high probability of being over salted and possibly inedible. But, me knowing veterans and the food that has been provided to them by our government, I think they would have happily ate the food regardless of the salt. After, a quick trip back to Publix to retrieve disposable trays to transport the food, we looked up the address and loaded the truck and started the drive over to Veterans Village. Pulling up to the housing unit I was very interested to see how our soldiers were being treated after being discharged and how life in general was going for them since being discharged. We were greeted with many smiling faces and more appreciation than I felt was deserved. This guys and girls signed their lives away and had a high probability of never returning home physically and almost for sure not returning home mentally. This group of guys were great though and so thankful. I helped set up an impromptu buffet style setting and helped disperse food with two other young ladies. I remember constantly saying to the girls helping scoop food on the plates, “don’t shake the spoon” there is more food than they can eat here and we won’t run out.  After, passing food and starting on the To-Go plates, I started bagging trash and helping to clean the kitchen. At this point Dr. Soldani gave the green light for volunteers to eat if they wanted too. Unfortunately, my wife and I had previous plans for dinner and had to leave without eating any of that delicious food that everyone graciously brought in.
            Volunteering for this helped me in ways that are sometimes hard to explain. There, was many times during the event that I was fighting back tears and getting emotional over the state of how our veterans are treated. I realize how lucky I was to have as support system back home to lean on and had it not been for them I could have easily become another statistic. I personally feel my core values are and always will be evolving. The feeling you get helping others is one that almost is reminiscent of love. The feeling is warm and creates a type of euphoria knowing that you are helping people that are truly in need of help. It seemed that some of these veterans just wanted or needed someone to talk too. The military literally will break a person down mentally and physically and build you back up into someone that you may or may not want to be. I think the gift of time and conversation is a skill I will try to employ more often now when dealing with people ion need and not just veterans. Food is always helpful, but who wants to eat alone? And who wants to go through life with no one to talk about their feeling or the stresses they deal with day to day. I think the dinner helped me use a core value I picked up while I was serving in the US ARMY. That core value being “No man left behind”, and it pained me to see so many veterans being left behind. Our VA is a joke and the nation only seems to care about the soldiers that fought for our freedoms two different holidays a year. We as country throw barbeques on Memorial Day, a day for the fallen and then there is veteran’s day where everyone gets a paid day off but I have never heard of one person donating that day to helping a disable vet in need.
            The citizens of this country have always been so sheltered from wars over seas and it pains me to know that most have an out of sight out of mind attitude about it. We are very lucky to have men and women willing to leave their homes and families to risk life and limb in order for us to consume products that pollute our beautiful planet live peacefully in our perfect sheltered bubble. I believe if people would just do anything on days that are not holidays or special events it could help raise moral amongst veterans. Not to mention, it also makes you feel good a human, knowing that you helped someone that was willing to give his life for you. I have found that volunteering is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things I have ever done. It feels better than getting paid big money for jobs are easy and I dare say spending the evening watching the Notebook with your significant other.  At the end of the day I think it’s the love of others and the love of yourself that makes contributing feel so great. Love is so powerful and if we all can contribute just a little love here and there we can create a world where no one feels alone and forgotten. So even if you volunteer for extra credit or to do it buff your resumes, I feel at the end of it all you will feel the love I have referred to many times throughout my writing.