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Reserve Soldiers and Veterans Connect Over Coffee
by Army Spc. Brittney Bradley - November 9, 2011

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Navy veteran Paul Colyer of North Little Rock, Ark., shares stories of his time as a Navy medic in Vietnam with Soldiers from the 90th Sustainment Brigade, Special Troops Battalion of Camp Pike, Ark. Soldiers of the 90th volunteered at the Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center in North Little Rock, Ark., by handing out coffee and cookies while visiting with veterans on Nov. 5, 2011. The center, more commonly known as Fort Roots, is part of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and provides many rehabilitation services to local veterans. Photo by Army 1st Sgt. Larry Mears
Navy veteran Paul Colyer of North Little Rock, Ark., shares stories of his time as a Navy medic in Vietnam with Soldiers from the 90th Sustainment Brigade, Special Troops Battalion of Camp Pike, Ark. Soldiers of the 90th volunteered at the Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center in North Little Rock, Ark., by handing out coffee and cookies while visiting with veterans on Nov. 5, 2011. The center, more commonly known as Fort Roots, is part of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and provides many rehabilitation services to local veterans. Photo by Army 1st Sgt. Larry Mears
 NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (11/7/2011) -- The smell of coffee and Girl Scout cookies filled the air at the Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center as local Army Reserve soldiers strolled inside with gifts and donations in hand Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011.

The soldiers of the 90th Special Troops Battalion at Camp Pike in North Little Rock, Ark., volunteered to spend their morning visiting the residents of the healthcare center while serving them coffee and cookies. The center offers veterans many rehabilitation services, medical treatment, housing assistance and drug abuse programs.

Mission coordinator, 1st Lt. Dale D. Barnes, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 90th STB, said his purpose for this mission was to start giving back to veterans who served the people of the United States.

"I wanted the soldiers to feel good about the job they are doing and see that people do take care of us after separation" said Barnes. "I wanted to go somewhere so that they could
see where veterans can go and live while getting help."

After delivering donated clothing, personal hygiene products, flags, bedding, food and even a guitar, soldiers socialized with the veterans sharing stories of their service. The 90th also displayed several vehicles providing veterans a glimpse of some of the advances in today's tactical equipment.

Air Force veteran Sharon Culbert, a resident at the center, shared laughs with some of the soldiers. While sipping her coffee she explained how she separated from the military. “When it was time to go, I didn't have the right sandals to go to the Gulf War, so I got out,” she jokingly said.

Although she had not been deployed to a war zone, she expressed how much she enjoyed being in the military and encouraged everyone to keep up the good work.

Spc. Chris Musselman, Chaplains Assistant with the 112th Chaplains Det. at Camp Pike in North Little Rock, Ark., said that he was unsure what to expect when headed to the center. After visiting with a few of the patients he felt that the residents were well taken care of.

Musselman was encouraged by his visit with Culbert. “Her overall attitude was great. I don't know why she was there, but she seemed thankful for what we were doing,” said Musselman, “That made me feel good about what I was doing.”

Another resident emerged from his room just a few feet behind the group. Before he could close his door, the soldiers were offering coffee and asking him to share his story. He politely declined the coffee before retreating back into his room. A few moments later, Army veteran Gerald Bennett, emerged from his room with a handmade scrapbook covered in digital camouflage.

The soldiers hovered around attentively listening to him share some of his personal military history and memories of his time before separation from the Army as a specialist. The hallway became quiet; nothing was heard but Bennett's voice.

“These are some of the best memories I have of my military days,” said Bennett.

The scrapbook boasted coins received, newspaper articles and certificates received while serving his country. Before retreating back into his room, he grabbed a cookie and the soldiers thanked him for all that he had done for them and their country.

Visiting with Bennett meant a lot to Pfc. Harold Pickens.

“When he pulled out that photo album, it was pretty nice. It was relatable,” said Pickens, “I enjoyed the experience and would love to do it again!”

Barnes felt this visit was a success and set a goal to try to give back to the community at least twice yearly now and become more involved in local events.

“I got a sense that [the veterans] were pleased to see people who care about them,” said Barnes.

More photos available in frame below

By Army Spc. Brittney Bradley
343rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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