So, I had an idea to do a show about Veterans Day. The goal for ‘WHAT WOULD she DO?’ is always to provide information and resources while encouraging, uplifting and inspiring our viewers. As the idea evolved I wanted the show to be less about the “day” and more about the people the day honors…Veterans. With camera in tow, I headed to the Veterans Day Parade. It was a bright sunny Saturday morning and the chill in the breeze reminded us all that winter is near. Onlookers like myself stood along the sidewalks of blocked off streets in Uptown Charlotte, NC. We were there to support and honor our veterans, encourage members of the local high schools’ JROTC and ROTC marching in the parade as well as a host of other participants. The smell of street food, the sounds of car horns, motorcycle engines and drums and trumpets from the various school marching bands filled the air as we cheered and waved. The children were happy, parents were proud, and veterans looked on in remembrance. The energy was tremendous…it was positive, it was happy, and it felt good. That good feeling ended abruptly. As the parade ended, I was approached by a young man asking for spare change to buy food. He shared that he was homeless and a military veteran. I told him I don’t carry cash, he said he understood then we walked our separate ways. There was something in me that would not let that conversation be the end. I wanted to help, even though I didn’t have change. My curiosity needed to know how this happened. I stopped the young man (who I’ll call RG to protect his privacy) who looked sad and tired and was wearing only a t-shirt in the windy cold. He was very soft spoken and passionate about the loss of his parents, being thrown out of his home by the mother of his children, being separated from his children, and being disappointed by family and friends. He was alone and in need of help. I knew that I could make phone calls to get him information but, in that moment, I could offer nothing more than kind words as comfort. I doubt that I was helpful and that saddens me. We remember those in service, our fallen soldiers, and on Veterans Day we have parades in honor of all who served…as we should. But, what happens when they come home? What can we do to help them return to a life of normalcy, a life of happiness and one in which they can thrive. During my conversation with RG he said something that really stood out for me. He said, “It was quick and easy for us to enlist but trying to get the benefits that I earned is long and hard.” What can WE do to help our veterans?
I’ll keep you posted on RG. In the meantime, lets us always remember those who sacrificed so much for the freedom and safety of us all. THANK YOU for your service, your commitment, your courage, and your sacrifice!
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