- Twenty million American citizens are veterans.
- Twelve states are without veteran representation in Congress.
- Only 49 Congressional representatives have battle experience.
- From August 1990 to August 2021, the multigenerational Gulf War involved over six million military members
- Seven hundred fifty thousand veterans live in North Carolina.
The voice of advocacy on behalf of veterans is small. It takes more than just reading, listening, and talking with well-informed individuals. Trust is vital. Fortunately, for the 150,000 veterans who live in the Piedmont Triad, they have a unique opportunity occurring on the second Saturday of each month in Winston-Salem. Nike Roach, US Army veteran, the co-founder of the Veterans Gulf War Era Coffee, shares, “Most who come to our meetings want a similar connection to what they had while in service. They want to talk to younger folks who had similar experiences or stories and enjoy themselves with a familiar backdrop.” Visitors will find three to four guys who share lessons learned, best practices, and vital information to take the next step forward. Jesse Almanza, USMC RET., says, “Our sources come directly from Veteran Affairs. While others cannot share specific details, we can!”
Tell Your Story
Introductions are made through the informal telling of one person’s story. Listeners glean insights, make connections, acquire knowledge, and form questions. And the outcome for the teller is a common statement of longing, “I wish I knew sooner!” By not telling their stories, a lack of knowledge becomes expensive for veterans. For instance, millions of men and women received a disabled rating by the VA and didn’t know North Carolina had a statewide program for education, on-the-job training, creating a business, or children, aged 23 and under, living at home.
The Intent to File
“’How do I file?’ is a commonly asked question,” says Jesse Almanza, USMC RET. People hear information; yet it needs to come from a trusted source. Many of our conversations lead to filing. We talk about how documentation from the initial injury connects the dots to a long list of appointments.”
- E-benefits have transitioned to www.VA.gov. Information changes all the time. Current websites will help you obtain e-mails and news easier than older formats.
- Outcomes from court cases and new legislation impact veterans, their children, spouses, and dependents. If you filed for a Gulf War injury years ago, try again!
- If on active-duty orders and connected to the VA, keep Veteran Affairs aware of your status.
- Enroll in V.A. benefits at your local hospital!
- Prepare death benefits paperwork in advance to help your family, rather than experiencing a potential suspension in probate.
Podcasts and “Know Zone” Webinars
Do you know who represents you in the 117th Congress? Have you ever thought about that last mission, death? Did you know many veterans are silently in our lives every day? These questions are themes that comprise 30-to-45-minute podcasts located on Spotify or iHeart apps. Take the time, while driving to work or taking a walk to become informed!
In addition, Gulf War Veterans Coffee presents weekly webinars on Facebook. Expect to learn about veteran disability benefits, health care, mental health, home loans, wills, estate planning, and many other topics!
Discount for Veterans
Once a veteran receives a 30% or higher rating, the door opens, especially for family members! The main exchange at military bases once had restrictions and was limited to men and women with 20 years of service; today, the rating carries opportunity. Did you know camping and national parks offer pricing at a nominal cost, or free, for most veterans, including rated? Nike Roach shares, “Most veterans are quiet people; yet their insignia and colors are a tool to savings. Sometimes a T-shirt is enough, or asking can give you a discount on items from phone systems to computer software.
Everyone is welcome to join the Gulf War Era Veterans’ Coffee group every second Saturday of the month at 10:00 AM. Veterans can bring a spouse, a parent, an adult child to learn how veteran benefits can improve your life! Nike Roach says, “After the meeting, men and women take conversations out into the parking lot. Hours later, they remain talking, sharing, and connecting interests. Sometimes, it takes months for veterans to attend our meeting. And, once here, they want it to continue!”
For more information go to https://gulfwarveteranscoffee.com/. Gulf War Era Veterans’ Coffee meets at New Beginnings Church, 4555 Shattalon Drive in Winston-Salem.