Apr 28, 2009

Students behind our solders

by Mandi Forth

To defend, serve and protect is the purpose of the military. If it is the military’s duty to serve us, whose job is it then to serve the military? That is a job that the organization Students Behind our Soldiers (SBS) decided to take on.

SBS is a Liberty University campus organization that began in fall of 2007 with the sole purpose of giving back to the men and women that serve in the U.S. military. To date, the organization has sent 100 care packages to soldiers deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sending care packages is not the only mission of the organization, which also believes in giving back to military families and veterans.

“Why wouldn’t we do what we do? We get to serve the men and women who serve us. What we do is so small compared to what they do for us,” Vice President of SBS, Laura Blankenship, said.

The organization hosted a variety of events to raise support and awareness of the military. In 2008, SBS hosted Military Appreciation Week on campus. Some of the events it hosted were an awareness seminar on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a candlelight tribute service for fallen soldiers. SBS collaborated with the National Guard and Liberty University for other events held that week.

The main focus this semester has been the group’s trip to the Veterans Hospital in Salem, Va. SBS took 18 of its members to spend a Saturday afternoon encouraging veterans with a pizza and bingo party. Members from the group helped the veterans upstairs that were confined to wheelchairs then served them pizza and refreshments. The group sat and ate with the veterans and got to know them.

“I went to the hospital expecting to be a blessing to the veterans, but instead I was the one that received the blessing,” SBS member Andrea Javid said.

The veteran’s hospital treats 300,000 veterans every year. Many of the veterans that received treatment from the facility in the past also volunteer their services there. Veteran James Manns served overseas in Somalia, and spends time at the hospital working with veterans.

“We have several people come through here to volunteer, but this is probably the largest group that has helped out,” Manns said regarding SBS.

“The military was an experience that made me grow as an adult, as a man, it had its ups and downs, like life, but I really loved serving my country. That’s why I love coming up here and volunteering my time to help out other vets. I’ve done this for awhile now and I want to continue to keep doing it,” Manns said.

SBS will continue to be involved in the community and expand its outreach as the group grows. The group has blossomed from 10 members in 2007 to 50 members currently.

“The only limits SBS has, are the ones that God places on us and I believe he will take us far,” Blankenship said.

 


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