SUPPORT SYSTEMS: PART THREE – COMMUNITY
When we think of a support system, a family member or a friend may come to mind. Although less common, a support system can be found unexpectedly within anyone’s community. Unique relationships form between veterans and their friends in unlikely places, shown through these three stories. Today we would like to share the stories of communities. These compelling stories come from the StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative.
The story of Erik and Jenna:
Veteran and seventh grade social studies teacher, Erik, previously served over 20 years in the U.S. Army. His student, Jenna, has a father who had served in Iraq. Although they were on opposite sides of the experience, they connected and helped each other deal with their experiences. Jenna said, “When he missed my birthday, like, that just, it got me.” Erik comforted her saying, “I’m sure he knows exactly how you felt about that because for him it was a drag too.”
The story of Joe and Lou:
Joe served in Afghanistan for 18 years, after his return he struggled to transition back to civilian life and suffered from PTSD. After a DWI arrest and probation violation, Joe was sentenced to a night in jail. Army veteran and District Court Judge, Lou, was aware that Joe would have a difficult time spending an evening confined in a jail cell, and chose to stay overnight with him. Joe said, “… when they locked the door, I thought to myself, He’s going to spend the night here. I’ve never seen this kind of act from anyone.”
The story of Justin and Ali:
Justin, a veteran, discusses his experiences in Iraq with his wife, Deanne. While Justin was in Iraq, he befriended a young Iraqi boy named Ali. The two would play together, until they eventually became close friends. Justin’s friendship with Ali gave him something to look forward to while on active duty. When Ali lost his friend, Justin was there to support and help him as well. “We were about as close as people that don’t speak the same language can be. I had never been really good with children and this was the first time I felt like I loved someone who wasn’t my family member,” said Justin.
These stories demonstrate that anyone who cares can become a support system. Support can come from someone completely unrelated to the individual, someone who is there to listen, or someone who wants to help.
By Deirdre Heneghan
CVN Summer Associate, Communications & Marketing