By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
Each time I sit down to write a column, a million thoughts float through my mind like fireflies flitting in a sprawling, grassy field on a warm summer night. Sometimes it’s a challenge to filter, in order to focus on one topic. My brain is saturated with a wide variety of topics that I want to write about – some for the pure sake of discussion and some because I’m passionate about a subject.
But I’m in a patriotic mindset of late, because I’m thinking of the float that our TownSquareBuzz Foundation (TSBF) will display in McKinney’s Fourth of July parade tomorrow. I’m in that mindset because while sitting at the Square Burger’s bar last Friday night, I spoke with a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Kosovo. He shared some of his experiences — not very pleasant, I might add, and thanked me for wearing my red “Honor Those Who Serve” shirt.
My thoughts fly back to a little over a year ago, when I was motivated by some family members and friends to take the plunge and start the TSB Foundation. Its mission is to create awareness around the extensive and unique needs of our military service men and women, and their families, following their service to our country. I’ve learned so much about the needs of our veterans in 14 months.
But I confess. The founding of a foundation which focuses on veterans wasn’t my idea initially. I was one of the “ignorance is bliss” U.S. citizens who was just happy that none of my immediate family had to serve! Oh boy — little did I know 15 months ago that I’d become so passionate about a cause and brazenly willing to promote it as well!
It’s funny how things happen sometimes. I remember my daughter Megan saying to me on many occasions, “Why can’t we do something in downtown McKinney to show we care about our veterans — something more than the Veteran’s Memorial that is in Craig Ranch?”
One of Megan’s close friends enlisted in the Navy and another friend is a former Marine. She began to school me and slowly, but surely, my daughter’s words sunk in. My friend, TSB staff writer Michele Bernard, shared some of her son’s experiences upon his return from serving in Iraq, where he was a sniper in the U.S. Army.
Michele said that her son was unable to enroll in Collin College until the college received the funding through the GI Bill first, which would take months. He had difficulty finding employment. Really? What does one do in civilian life when one is trained as a sniper? FBI? CIA? SWAT? I’m just saying!
At this time, the goal of the TSB Foundation is to create awareness about the unique needs of veterans and their families by joining the National Red Shirt Fridays campaign. By encouraging residents of McKinney to wear red on Friday, we aim to create a ground swell of support for our local veterans. We want to remind McKinney residents to remember that our veterans have given so much in order to preserve our freedom. They served so that we can continue to enjoy life as we know it in the United States. They served for us all.
Our veterans and their families need our support as they return home and transition into society. Joblessness is higher among veterans. Veterans, especially males, are more reluctant to seek counseling for mental health issues, including PTSD, because of the stigma that is still often placed on doing so.
Did you know that veterans who suffer from depression or PTSD are:
- more likely to be homeless
- more likely to suffer from substance abuse
- 2 times more likely to get divorced
- 3 times more likely to be unemployed
- 4 times more likely to attempt suicide
The TSB Foundation, in conjunction with McKinney’s Community Lifeline Center, is on a mission to get the word out about local services that are available to help veterans. We care! This is not about the politics of war. It’s about serving the needs of all of our veterans through education, mental and physical healthcare, and financial support when needed. It’s about showing support.
Show our veterans that you care. Wear red on Fridays. Don red shirts, bring your family, and walk with the TSB Foundation members in McKinney’s Fourth of July parade in downtown McKinney on Wednesday morning. The parade will form at S. Tennessee and Standifer Street, just south of the Square at 9 a.m. See you there!
Please watch the moving Vets video below.