Serving those who served

Published 1:10 pm Thursday, September 23, 2021

Phyliss Abbot wanted to bring local veterans together.

It’s why the organization she founded, Lady Veterans Together, invited them to Woody’s Sports Bar and Grill on Monday for a meetup.

“Tonight is all about you,” said Abbot as the veterans enjoyed complimentary appetizers. “It’s not about us. It’s not about any individual. We want to start connecting everybody together. We want to do things together. We want to support each other.”

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Support was something that many veterans at the meetup said they or someone they knew needed.

Abbot said that assistance was readily available.

“We have somebody here that can help whatever you have a need for, so please just let us help you,” Abbot said.

Representatives from different veterans aid organizations were on hand at the meetup, including Kristin Gallagher from the Lexington Vet Center, James Rogers from Operation Job Ready Veterans, and prominent veterans rights activist Reverend Jim Thurman.

Several veterans opened up about the difficulties they faced after leaving the military such as homelessness or not getting the benefits owned to them.

Others spoke about watching friends and loved ones struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other severe mental illnesses brought on by their military service.

Several did not receive proper support or care, including the good friend of one Marine in attendance. The Marine said his friend lost his family and later committed suicide.

Rogers said events like the meetup at Woody’s are needed to remind veterans that their service is not forgotten.

“Just so that people know that they know they are appreciated and know that they are not forgotten,” Rogers said. “And it lets people know that what they gave up and what they did, there is organizations out there to support them.”

Rogers served in the Navy for eight years as a master at arms and then a career counselor. He said that many veterans, including himself, struggle with adapting to civilian life after being used to “following an expected path” for so many years. Something as simple as a resume can be vexing for them.

“I wrote my first resume when I was 30 years old. That’s not good,” Rogers said. “With today’s society, you can’t just walk in and get the job. You’ve got to have a resume, you’ve got to know how to network and you’ve got to know what to put on that resume.”

Today Rogers works for an organization that helps veterans write resumes and prepares them for job interviews.

The meetup brought veterans together as Abbot wanted, and more importantly, it was the first step in forming mutually beneficial relationships.