COLORADO SPRINGS — An assembly line for filling boxes and bags with food is buzzing with activity in the parking area across the street from the Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center. It is staffed mostly by volunteers of all ages. The oldest is 90-year-old Bill Kettles, a Korean War Veteran and member of the downtown Colorado Springs Rotary Club. "It is so important. It really is that we take care of these veterans, and other people." He backs up his thought with action. This day, it is volunteering at the food give away for military members and the community.
The event is the Mount Carmel Veterans Service Center’s observation of Patriot Day which is coming up on September 11th. It is a day that honors the people lost and everyone who served in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
This is the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the United States. It is also 20 years of military men and women deploying to Afghanistan and other middle east locations.
Mount Carmel is a resource for all veterans no matter where they have served. The recent withdrawal from Afghanistan does, however, increase the need for awareness and possibly referral to services offered by the center.
There is formal counseling as well as transition advice and support at the center. Mount Carmel Executive Director, Robert McLaughlin said it may seem simple, but volunteer events like the Patriot Day food give away are also a good way for veterans to feel support from other veterans. “For healing for veterans, sometimes it’s not counseling, it’s not about a job, it’s about giving back. So, volunteering to help others is as healing as other things are.”
“Paired with everything going on right now, I think it’s important now more than ever to give back to the community,” said Army Veteran, Justin VerHulst. He smiles at the irony of hearing “thank you for your service,” from the people he came to serve. “We’re getting a lot of smiles.”