By Brooke Curley
SAFFORD – Giving out information for those who might ever need it, the Veterans Resource Fair combined educational lectures with a meet-and-greet, Friday.
The Arizona Commission for Military Families is a non-profit group that travels to various cities and towns in Arizona giving lectures and gathering local resources for military veterans and families. Working with the Military Prevention Subcommittee through the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, the ACMF came to Graham County to help form community connections during a lunch presentation at the Graham County General Services Building.
Mario Aguirre, of the ACMF, gave a lecture on how military members may transition to life at home, local veteran resources, and working within the government systems to receive proper benefits. Aguirre expressively highlighted the stresses of life back at home for returning military veterans in his presentation.
“There’s always the honeymoon stage, and that lasts for about three months,” Aguirre said. “And then reality hits. Reality – back home – that’s stressful. You mean, I’ve gotta get a job? I have to pick a uniform? That’s stressful; those everyday things that we have to think about, that’s stressful.”
Rosa Contreras, of the Military Prevention Subcommittee, said the turnout was good for the first-ever meeting with the ACMF, and that it was an educational event.
“We had a really good turnout, and we really learned about the different resources we have in the community and how to help service members and their families,” Contreras said. “We also learned how to be better at connecting the military service members and their families with the correct resources. We learned more about the resources that we have here and how to be able to utilize them better. We also learned about the military culture and being more aware of the issues that military families face. It’s a really great network opportunity.”
According to the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, and Arizona National Guard & US Department of Veterans Affairs, Graham County holds the proud number of 3,180 veteran residents. However, because Graham County is a relatively rural area, Contreras works with the Military Prevention Subcommittee to form community support, friendships, and resources for veterans, active military, and military families. After the latest meeting, Contreras told Gila Valley Central that she hopes to expand, bring more individuals and agencies to the meetings, re-evaluate new information, and reassess local resources.
KEY STATEWIDE RESOURCES
National Veterans Crisis Line – available 24/7 to any service member, veteran, family member or concerned person: PHONE: 1-800-273-8255, option 1 | ONLINE/CHAT: www.VeteransCrisisLine.net | TEXT: 838255
Help for Homeless Veterans Line – available 24/7 to connect service members, veterans, and family members who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless to local resources: 1-877-424-3838
Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services – enriches and honors Arizona’s veterans and their families through education, advocacy, and service: www.AZDVS.gov
Arizona Coalition for Military Families – connection point for military, government and community organizations: www.ArizonaCoalition.org | firstname.lastname@example.org | 602-753-8802
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