“Welcome home soldiers, what can we do for you?”
On Saturday, June 2, at the Brainerd VFW the lakes area community will have an opportunity to say just that. All people are invited to a pig roast, free to vets with any military ID. This event starts at 6 p.m. to honor veterans’ service to their country. The idea for this private event was crafted and organized by two area citizens in conjunction with the Brainerd VFW. Doug Host, commander of the Brainerd VFW, embraced the idea when Ted Bergee, one of the organizers, approached him about it.
“We honor the dead by taking care of the living,” Host said. “I hoped that this would help establish our Beyond the Yellow Ribbon network. Our armed forces personnel are not the kind of people to ask for help.”
The Brainerd VFW provides veterans with wheelchairs, walkers, general advocacy needs, and scholarship opportunities for soldiers returning to school. While the event is free to veterans, any donations collected by the public will go directly to the cause of helping soldiers.
The two organizers, Ted Bergee and Barbara Haney, said they are hoping this event will continue to bring attention to soldier’s needs, even after Memorial Day. In addition to coordinating this event, they are both coordinating additional events to continue highlighting that readjustment does not happen overnight.
“I think the people of Crow Wing County do a great job of letting our veterans know we appreciate them, and here is an opportunity to rally around them as they make their very important transition home,” Bergee said. “But after this is over, I intend to keep planning things in conjunction with community leaders so that we don’t hesitate to support them or forget what these people enlisted and went overseas to fight for ... our Constitution, our protection of personal liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Barbara Haney agreed, and is also focused on not just this event, but on solidifying the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Network in the lakes area. “Our soldiers are coming from the dangerous roads of Afghanistan only to experience the hard road of readjustment. We as a community do a great job of coming together for our neighbors. These neighbors are in need, and this event is an opportunity to help people who aren’t in the habit of asking for help.”
Among the festivities, organizers of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and the Summer Liberty Games will be at the pig roast to make presentations and discuss coming events and volunteer opportunities. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping military families obtain cost-free or reduced-fee services from licensed child care providers, plumbers, doctors, lawyers, and more as soldiers try to get their lives in order after deployment. According to Haney, the needs are great, and volunteers are in short supply.
The Summer Liberty Games is a series of paintball games hosted by the Brainerd Paintball Connection.
More information regarding the liberty paintball games may be obtained by contacting the Brainerd Paintball Connection at 829-1543.
Those who are interested in joining the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign may contact Haney at 764-2136.