For Many Veterans Wounds Still Hurt

On Veterans Day it’s hard to miss the recognition many deserving troops and individuals received. Social media played its part with Walmart’s Green Light A Vet campaign. A simple idea: replace a front porch light bulb with a green one, to signify support. Walmart provided what the symbolism represents: to “Greenlight” is to forward movement, and by showing with the first sign of a home, a lit green porch light, is (hopefully), ‘greenlighting’  and signifying veterans forward, as valued members of every community.

Every other week I anticipate seeing Dana (first name), a sergeant who served in the Vietnam War, (due to HIPPA last name is omitted). Dana, age 65, lives in a skilled nursing facility where he gets help for ongoing PTSD, COPD and other physical limitations.

The nursing facility planned special festivities for Veterans Day, as Dana wasn’t the only resident veteran. This was to be their day, beginning with a celebratory special breakfast followed by activities planned throughout the day. I envisioned Dana enjoying the commemorations, after all it is a day of thanks for those who served.

Dana shares his experiences of fighting and rescuing fellow soldiers during his service in the Vietnam War.

Dana shares his experiences of fighting in doing rescue missions during his service in the Vietnam War.

I’d become accustomed to hearing animated stories where I learned much about Dana. Besides sharing his terrific sense of humor, Dana shared war stories, some of which were quite gruesome. Sgt. Dana was part of  a specialized training group, called The Studies and Observations Group, or (SOG) and fought on Hamburger Hill. He’s one of the lucky few who lived to tell his story.

Dana enjoyed breakfast but insisted on steering clear from the music and socializing activities at The Summit. I asked why he preferred not to be recognized and he replied, “I don’t want to remember the bad things that happened.” Not meaning to be different, Dana’s response is one of self-preservation.

Reflecting back on being in the jungle, carrying out fallen soldiers while escaping the enemy is as fresh a memory as yesterday for Dana. He is proud of his service but broadcasting those tough times isn’t his style.

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Dana shares war stories and shows me a framed collection of medals he earned from serving in the Vietnam War.

While companies such as Walmart bring attention to veterans, some prefer to choose when and where to talk, not on any particular day or place. The results of the Green Light A Vet campaign recorded 3,433,638 clicks as of December 15th at 11:20 a.m., EST. According to the Walmart campaign site “Every click counts as a social act of support in honor of our veterans, and will be displayed on The Greenlight Beacon, a glowing installation symbolizing our united support for veterans.”

The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 in Southington, CT promoted Green Light A Vet although I didn’t see too many home porch lights go from yellow to green, albeit one, who kept it up past November and into December where it can easily be mistaken as a Christmas decoration.

Dana's service cap from the Vietnam War.

Dana’s service cap from the Vietnam War.

I couldn’t be more thankful for Dana’s service and for meeting him through the Adopt-A-Veteran program at The Summit At Plantsville. Conversation, story sharing and spending time are ways to show others we care.

If you would like volunteer for this program, please call 860 628-0364. If Southington, CT isn’t convenient, reach out to a nursing home where you live. The experience is something you’ll wind up cherishing. What you give comes back bigger in heart and spirit.

Artists Honor Vets in Give Back Event

Ginger Grant shows family their portrait during 'Thank You Photo Shoot' event at Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 in Bristol.

Ginger Grant shows Van Houten family their portrait during ‘Thank You Photo Shoot’ event at Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 in Bristol.

If you do what you love enjoyment follows. That sentiment is the driving force behind the Artist Tree Tea House’s totally free ‘Thank You Photo Shoot,’ event held at the studio to honor veterans and their families.

Dori Green, proprietor of Bristol’s Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156, (ATTH&G156), sponsored the event in conjunction with volunteer photographers Ginger Grant of Ginger Lee Originals, G.L.O. Photography and Lynn Keeler Fisher, who is also a veteran.

The idea to pay it forward comes naturally to all three women, each of whom shared perspectives why they give their time and talents. Green, a relatively new entrepreneur in this brick and mortar space, brings a multitude of skills to her business, which opened in 2013. Green’s creativity encompasses painting, event production, catering, hairstylist, make-up and massage therapy.

ATTH&G156 brings Bristol and nearby surrounding towns a community-minded destination for arts and crafts exploration, a live venue for music performance and poetry readings and a cozy vintage styled tearoom with offerings of fine loose-leaf teas, coffee and sweet treats.

Additionally, lunches are served consisting of salads, wraps and hearty soups. ATTH&G156 is available to host receptions and business meetings.

Green is active in the Bristol Rising momentum and has advocated for improvements to the building to expand the rear outdoor space. Green hopes to accommodate yoga classes or meetings on the deck overlooking the Pequabuck River.

Dori Green applies a touch up to volunteer photographer and veteran Lynn Keeler Fisher on right.

Dori Green applies a touch up to volunteer photographer and veteran Lynn Keeler Fisher on right.

Ginger Grant’s work consists of jewelry design, fine art photography, painting and knitting arts. Grant’s unique hand made necklace and earring designs and photography are for sale in ATTH&G156.

Lynn Keeler Fisher is active in arts advocacy. Fisher’s photography of Hartford Artspace and Meriden Gallery 153 events touts each organization’s arts activities.

Lynn Keeler Fisher gives in to laughter during her turn at sitting for portrait.

Lynn Keeler Fisher gives in to laughter during her turn at sitting for portrait.

Three busy people recognize giving time nourishes the very creativity that feeds their spirits. Green worked as volunteer Massage Emergence Response Team (MERT), member during the 9/11 crisis through the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) helping first responders cope with fatigue and exhaustion from hours of search and rescue efforts. “As objective a person could be, it stills upsets me remembering how disappointed rescue workers were after realizing they couldn’t get to people in time to save them.”

Grant describes photography as a life passion, “It gives me the chance to feel good giving back.” Choosing veterans to thank is an easy choice because they are the kind of people who put others before themselves.

For Fisher, volunteering for ‘Thank You Photo Shoot’ presented an opportunity to connect with veterans, to practice posing techniques and to have her own portrait taken, “Portrait photography is different than event photography.” Fisher chose to enlist in the Navy and served four years from 1978-1982.

During that time Fisher held Engineman status and worked as a diesel mechanic. “Most friends were just getting out of college when I returned from service. I travelled to Hawaii, Singapore, Somalia and Philippines. I never regretted the choice I made – it provided me with a solid education and great life experience,” said Fisher.

Ginger Grant photographs officers Jodie and Ken Fay who serve in CT Governors Horse Company and work with canine Comfort Dog Maggie of Christ The King LutheranChurch in Newtown, CT.

Ginger Grant photographs veterans Jodi and Ken Fay. Ken works with the CT Governor’s Horse Guard and both work with Comfort Dog Maggie of Christ The King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT.

Green hopes more people will come to Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 to check out the goings on there. “It’s all about creating opportunities to nourish the good within each of us.”

Lynn Keeler Fisher photographs Naval officer with family. Fisher also is a veteran and sat for photo.

Lynn Keeler Fisher photographs Travis Van Houten, Naval officer HM2, wife Ali and baby daughter Leah. Fisher, is also a veteran.