The mission statement reads, “To ensure the memory of, and support to, those who serve through Welcome Home Veterans Living Military Museum at Richard's Coffee Shop”.
While the mission statement is simple and the concept to carry forward the core values of Honor, Respect, Duty, and Love of country is a noble task, I would be unable to tell the story of Welcome Home Veterans, in a single article. To those who come every Saturday morning and show up on Thursdays for the commradery and free coffee, Richard's Coffee Shop is far more than a hang-out for a “bunch of old Veterans” to sit around and tell war stories. To each and every one I spoke with Saturday morning, there is no glory in old war stories only lessons to be learned and a prayer that they never have to be re-lived by our children and grandchildren.
Welcome Home Veterans (a 501-c-3, nonprofit foundation) is so much more than what one might first guess, particularly those who have never donned a uniform in defense of our country. A passive observer might think Richard's Coffee Shop is a neat place with a lot of war relics adorning the walls (as well as many of the veteran-relics who pack every square inch of floor and table space). It's almost hallowed ground and gave me the same sense of prided and yet humbleness I felt when I first saw The Wall in Washington DC. Such bravery, honor, and greatness that only those who have served will ever know.
There were many in the military, who like me, never faced enemy fire, and who carry a feeling of guilt that others did, but that we were spared and placed in some other military slot in support of the real heroes, both living and dead. I have learned to live with those feelings through the support of those who did get the call to action; they taught me that no team can fight without adequate support at all levels. War is a team effort and unlike war portrayed by Hollywood, with its leading superstar-hero, every veteran plays his or her part. Richard's brings out that feeling of being a part of The Band of Brothers made famous by the acclaimed eight-part, war epic of Easy Company and their trek across Europe to defeat Germany.
As I now sit at my computer writing about my first experience at Richard's I noted on my calendar that I have a date to be back next Thursday morning to discuss ways I can participate, but also ways we can develop the Richard's Coffee Shop idea in other parts of the country. As I noted, Richard's isn't a hang-out, but can be more aptly described as an ideal setting that can provide counseling and guidance to those returning warriors who are lost somewhere between going someplace and lost. Those who know they don't want to go back to war, but not knowing where to turn to find out why they just don't have all the “marbles collected” to enable them to function in civilian life.
At Richards, I could feel the infinite support available from the knowledgeable minds of those who have not only talked the talked but walked the walk, not some psychiatric pinheads who learned everything they need to know from classes taught by other pinheads that learned all they ever needed to know from books. Richard's is real life, no phonies, just the kinds of people who collectively have all the answers and a down home way of getting their message across. Richard's is the answer for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling; it's the home of “guidance counseling” (I.e. operation manual) of how to navigate the Veteran's Administration bureaucratic maze; and guardian angel for those who have no place else to turn. At Richard's you know quickly that if you're a veteran, “You ain't heavy, you're our brother”.
So how can I find a way to lend my help; my knowledge of doing grand projects both nationally and internationally for nearly two decades for those in need; my experience of being a development director/coordinator with the National Guard International Bureau; and my ability to put thoughts into words; and how can we take this phenomenal vehicle across the country to provide the veteran support every community needs . Can we answer the call to solve the homeless veteran's problem? Can we improve the veteran's access to veteran's benefits through mentoring? Can we provide ongoing one-on-one and group counseling to those needing help for PTSD? And can we continue raising the public's awareness that FREEDOM IS NEVER FREE by instilling new meaning in Veteran's and Memorial Days?
By Ed Mattson
Reprinted from Veterans Today
About Author: Following his service in the Marine Corps Ed Mattson built a diverse career in business in both sales and marketing and management. He is a published author and medical research specialist. He is currently Development Director of the National Guard Bureau of International Affairs-State Partnership Program, Fundraising Coordinator for the Warrior2Citizen Project, and Managing Partner of Center-Point Consultants in North Carolina. Mr. Mattson is a noted speaker and has addressed more than 3000 audiences in 42 states and 5 foreign countries. He has been awarded the Order of the Sword by American Cancer Society, is a Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and appeared on more than 15 radio and television talk-shows. Email Ed Mattson | Ed Mattson's Blog
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