New Veterans Club should inspire all clubs to find unmet needs in their communities
Utah Rotary’s new Veterans Satellite Club is sponsored by Dixie Sunrise Club with a focus on veterans helping veterans.
According to satellite club president Doug Graham, though there are veterans’ groups in Southern Utah – like VFW, Marine Corps League, the Veterans Administration, and Vietnam Veterans groups – this new satellite club has defined some opportunities to serve veterans that are not currently being addressed. Some of the new focuses for this group should inspire all our Utah Rotary clubs to think twice about how to serve those who might be underserved.
The new club’s focuses will include providing veterans in retirement homes with a Survivor/Executor Guide, a 50 plus page book produced to help organize Veterans Affairs information. Visits by club members will make friends as well. Many do not have family and therefore no visitors. The club will organize special events: pizza parties, pool parties, fishing trips, birthday celebrations, Christmas gifts, designed to visit with veterans and get them outside the retirement facility.
At Dixie State University, there are over 100 students that are veterans. Many have therapy dogs. The club will offer hiking with their dogs as well as engaging service projects, and mentoring for veterans by veterans. One veteran with a therapy dog gave his dog away because he couldn’t afford to feed him. This will not happen again on this club’s watch. Suicide prevention will also be a focus.
One of the club members (now 16 in total) has started the idea of a Veteran’s Honor Garden with individual plots where veterans can get outdoors and work with the soil. Members think this concept has merit and may be worth a Governor’s Collaborative Grant. All veterans would be welcome. Dixie State, for example, could provide student veterans to help build the project along with professors who know gardening who have already volunteered.
The club also has a VA family welfare person in the club and has used Rotary resources to address several veterans’ issues. In one case, the veteran had gone paragliding and broken about every bone in his body. The club contacted him and found medical issues were being handled but he still needed groceries, baby diapers, baby wipes, and some money for gas to get to his medical appointments. The next day, the club delivered 4 boxes of the needed supplies and an envelope with gas money. The local VA head was amazed and said one of the club’s real benefits was being able to react quickly whereas it might take more than 9 months to deliver benefits. The club will have a quick response group.
The club is also looking at helping homeless veterans, veterans with legal issues, and veterans at risk for suicide. All our members will be given the opportunity for suicide prevention training. Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population and female veterans are over 2 times more likely. With over 9% of Southern Utah being Veterans, the club has plenty of opportunities.