Family-friendly party Saturday will help veterans and their families
This weekend, a veteran-owned Forest Grove motorcycle shop will host a family-friendly fundraiser aimed at helping veterans and their families survive and thrive.
From 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, July 20, people can visit the grounds of the Iron Horse Garage to support the Returning Veterans Project, an organization that provides free counseling and other health services to returning veterans and their families, at its second annual Veterans Day in July.
The wonderful thing about RVP is that they extend assistance to not only veterans, but also their family, said Janel Thomas of Hillsboro. Her daughter, Bella Rossi, 14, received more than nine months of free counseling from an RVP counselor.
Bellas dad is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. Upon his return, Bella needed help coping with the new person her dad had become. The trouble was, her health care only covered a few visits with a counselor far from what she needed.
I dont think I wouldve had the time to let my brain heal from what I saw, said Bella, who declined to go into detail. I needed to be able to recover from that.
The all-day event at the Iron Horse Garage will include a free pancake breakfast, poker run, a car and bike show, horseshoe and pool tournaments, raffles, door prizes, live music and refreshments. The garage is owned by Bill Ballard, Thomas father, who is also a veteran.
The event came together last year with just over three weeks planning, Thomas said. The goal was simply to have a fun time with friends and help get the word out about what RVP does, she said. Despite the quick turnaround time, the event raised more than $1,100 for RVP. Help from the Portland-based organization was a godsend for Thomas family, because the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs isnt really equipped to help children, Thomas said.
Her daughter was able to access about 10 free counseling visits, and can be in touch with her counselor in the future, if needed. In helping plan the event, Thomas wanted to support RVPs efforts to help other families like hers.
Its the mothers, the sisters, the daughters. Everyone gets their fair share with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), Thomas said. When your mom or dad goes to war, theyre seldom who they used to be when they return.
Not being limited to just a few visits was key to Bellas healing, she said.
They talked to me about things I couldnt open up to other people about, Bella said.
Belle Landau, RVPs executive director, said its common for the VA to cover only six counseling visits for family members.
Landau said a wave of veterans is headed toward Oregon as the military winds down in Afghanistan, and events like this are crucial to get the word out to new providers who may be able to volunteer their time in the future.
Currently, 151 providers are available through RVP, offering services like acupuncture, massage and chiropractic treatments in addition to counseling.
Beyond the money raised at this years event, Landau values the grassroots effort to let more people know how they can help. RVP is already halfway to its goal of adding 60 new providers to its roster this year, she said.
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