Veterans mentor children and aid community through American Legion
Published 7:00 am Sunday, August 20, 2023
The American Legion in Greenville, a non-profit organization for veterans, is partnering with Hope Afield to work with at-risk-youth and their families. The group will be visiting the Hope Afield’s 162 acre farm, owned by Ken and Jan Kilpatrick, on Sept. 7 to learn about the mentorship program and activities.
Liza Berrey, Commander of Greenville’s American Legion Post 24, explained that it’s important for veterans to find purpose again after their military service by working within their community.
“Mr. Ken Kilpatrick is going to give us a presentation on all the things that he does at his facility in hopes that some of our veterans feel the urge to work with Hope Afield and help mentor some of the children,” Berrey said. “Many of the kids out there don’t have dads around to help teach them simple life skills like how to cut grass or for kids on a farm, how to feed livestock.”
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When veterans come home from serving their country, many find it hard to get back to the routine of their civilian life, Berrey explained, and sometimes farming and outdoor activities are instrumental in helping them return to their norm and to feeling like they are a part of life.
“We’re hoping this partnership could be a win-win for both the kids and veterans in finding support and purpose,” Berrey said.
Kilpatrick said Hope Afield aims to bring hope to young people that are struggling internally, mentally and emotionally, or externally as their family might have limited resources.
“The whole program is really geared towards spending time with the child, whether it’s on some kind of work project, or doing something they enjoy like playing a game, riding a horse, or going fishing,” Kilpatrick said. “Eventually you’re going to establish trust with that child and they open up to some of the things that they’re struggling with. Then that’s where we come in and teach them how to live.”
According to Kilpatrick, Hope Afield is an organization that encourages young people and helps them through the different things they struggle with, acting as a support system for the parents.
“I’m hoping that there will be veterans that have some life skills that they’d be willing to share with the young people, so we can provide encouragement to the veterans as well,” Kilpatrick said.
The American Legion encourages local veterans to attend the “Celebrate Being a Veteran” event hosted by the Southern Alabama Area Health Education Center (SSAHEC) for a day of camaraderie Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Greenville Public Library pavilion.
All veterans are free to join the event where lunch will be provided and prizes can be won. Veterans are encouraged to wear their memorabilia and patches, and to share their stories with other community members who have walked similar paths.
Berrey said the SSAHEC is working to help lower veteran suicide rates by helping veterans get connected to the resources they need for a healthy life.
“The SSAHEC is on a mission to help veterans with suicide prevention, as 18 American veterans commit suicide every day,” Berrey said. “When these veterans can’t get the help they need, they get extremely depressed.”
The American legion will also be hosting their annual turkey shoot fundraiser in November for all ages where prizes will be given.
Veterans who would like to join the American Legion Post 24 or to learn more about the upcoming events, are urged to contact Berrey at 334-437-0132 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.