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A veteran-to-veteran storytelling project designed to let Miami Valley veterans describe their own experiences, in their own words with a special focus on stories of re-entry into civilian life.

A new season of Veterans' Voices: Veterans' Champions

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In the new season of Veterans' Voices, you will hear from people who serve veterans, provide them with medical care, counseling, educational opportunities, jobs and and just plain moral support. We call them Veterans' Champions. If you’re a veteran or in a veterans family, you understand something about what their lives are like. But if you’re not, our series will help you understand what they contribute to who we are as a community and what’s being done to help them thrive.

Among them is Marilyn McCauley. She started a non-profit called Operation Fairborn Cares, one of more than one hundred veteran support organizations in the Dayton area. Marilyn McCauley looks for those who need help coping with daily life.

"So many of the veterans, post 9/11, went in right out of high school. They had not lived life. They had no social skills, no business skills, not many life skills in a lot of cases. So, as a result, they go in the military and everything's taken care of for them as a result of just being in the military. Their paycheck comes in automatically. If they're buying a car, that comes out automatically. They got someplace to sleep at night, you know, three meals a day, whatever. They come home and all of a sudden, 'Oh my goodness, I got to do this', and they don't know how."

Audrey Smith also works with Veterans one on one, she’s a Readjustment counselor at the Dayton Vet Center. Every day she meets people who’ve experienced real trauma.

"People are seeing things and having physiological and psychological reactions to what they’ve done in the call of duty. So, we're there to provide a safe place for them to come and process that however they would like to. Whether they want to do a trauma focused therapy. Or whether they want to do peer to peer counseling. Or if they just want to have a place to kind of talk about what it's like to get back into life after serving."

Some of these Veterans Voices you will be hearing in our new series are veterans themselves, like Charlynda Scales. She’s an entrepreneur, maker of a condiment called Mutts Sauce. Part of every sale goes to benefit a veteran support organization.

"I'm a veteran entrepreneur, not just an entrepreneur, I'm a veteran entrepreneur. What do we bring to the table in terms of being able to be of service? No one gets service like a veteran."

Tim O’Sullivan is an Air Force vet who’s helped other vets as part of the Warrior Weekend program.

"What I found the best is just sitting around the fire and talking. Most of the real power happened when everybody is just chatting. You start talking to each other and saying, 'Yeah, I have that, too.' and 'Yeah, you struggling with that?' You can understand each other, and you understand when somebody needs help."

Helping the individual veteran is good for the whole community, says Cassie Barlow. She heads the Greater Miami Valley MyVeteran Community, which tries to maximize the efforts of local organizations that support veterans.

"Military are a great resource to have in your community because they like to give back to the community. So, you know, you also have not just a ready to go talent for everyday business, but you have a ready to go talent for all of the volunteerism type stuff that that happens in a community. You know, Little League coaches and Girl Scouts and Boy Scout leaders, I mean, stuff you don't get paid for, but a community really needs and military love to do those types of things. And that doesn't go away when they become veterans. "

In our new season of Veterans Voices, you will hear these words mentioned a lot: Esteem, pride, relationships, brotherhood and sisterhood, community and beauty, and love. Join WYSO for our next story, Wednesday November 17.

Veterans Voices is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices by Will Davis and Tony Holloway, with support from Seth Gordon at the Wright State Veteran and Military Center. Financial support comes from Wright-Patt Credit Union.