Recently, our members have given time and talent to special veterans’ events. From a terrific USO / Kroger / Coca-Cola sponsored “Message in a Bottle” gathering to a resource fair attended by Pepsi and Dr. Pepper members, these efforts have me thinking more about the often invisible struggles of our veterans and their families.
For weeks, our Cincinnati area Coca-Cola Consolidated members gathered and wrote special messages to military service members and their families. These messages were presented at a Cincinnati Reds game where servicemen and women, Gold Star families and USO volunteers enjoyed a baseball game courtesy of Coke and Kroger. The crowd loved our own Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s successful first pitch and his adorable nephew’s pure joy at sharing the field with his uncle.
And recently, Representative Marlene Anielski co-hosted a military resource fair in her district where many organizations showcased benefits and services available to veterans of all eras and service capacities. Our Northeast Pepsi and Dr Pepper Snapple bottlers donated beverages and outlined job opportunities in our industry. Aside from jobs and benefit information, veterans also received free haircuts, massages and other amenities.
While these events—a light-hearted baseball game and a resource fair—seem different, I think they both speak to the often invisible wounds our veterans and their families may carry. The simple act of writing messages to soldiers deployed around the world acknowledges how people can struggle in isolation, cut off from family and friends and putting themselves in danger on our behalf. There is power in human connection.
Similarly, the resource fair included the Buckeye Art Therapy Association, a group dedicated to helping veterans with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD find ways to heal. I didn’t know much about this form of therapy but found an amazing TED talk archived on their website. The presenter explains how creating art can help with the speechless terror of many combat veteran's experience. Remarkable.
I am grateful that these events gave me an opportunity for more reflection on the complicated lives of those who serve our freedom, voluntarily putting themselves in harm’s way.