It was a proud moment for David, a former Marine.
David had just delivered his 11-minute talk at an open-mike night at The Attic Bar & Bistro. The participants are typically singing and playing music. But David has embarked on a mission. He shared his life story. He delivered indeed, and he grew in stature, confidence, and even a bit of pride.
David had a legitimate claim to a feel-good night.
He had worked hard to cast his life’s hardship story and gathered the courage to deliver it in public. Something he had never done before. Raul, Roxanne, and I sat in David’s support.
This was his second attempt.
Our agreement is that for David to achieve his life’s aspiration, a specific one, he needs to learn to walk. In the process of learning to walk, we take hundreds of falls; 17 falls-per-hour for 12-19 months old infants. In just six hours the kids take over 100 falls. The agreement is that if he delivers 100 talks that he prepares with our collaboration, I have guaranteed him that he will reach his destination before he crosses the finish line. Raul and I listen to his talks and support his growth.
David’s first attempt was a bust.
Raul picked up David to take him to Boulder’s Dairy Center of the Arts. It is a fine theater for performing arts and it had a story-slam event, in which David agreed to test his speech. He got spooked when he saw so many nicely dressed people. He threw up so many times along the way, and then finally just outside the hall. He exited the auditorium before he was called to speak. Last time, Raul alone accompanied David and represented our team’s support. This time three people showed up to support David.
Raul himself is a disabled-veteran of the Coast Guard.
Several years past his Coast Guard days and a hard struggle later, Raul is fully integrated into the community and is mentoring David. The men of the military speak the same language and know and call out the bull-crap when they need to. They know what their fellow veteran is experiencing in self-doubt, isolation, identity crisis, and income struggles. When Raul shows up in support of his fellow veterans, you can see a wave of calm spread over the scene. What one good veteran can do to help another is instantly visible. The energy shifts.
Veterans like David are very bright good men and are isolated.
Many veterans’ social skills are stunted by lack of social participation, unimaginable economic hardships, and often even homeless-ness that follows them from the military career exits. No one in America is structured to make time for them; not the military, not their families, not their friends, and not the community. The veterans help groups, in particular, are not places where veterans want to hang out. They see their own hardships in other veterans. The exception is when the vets know that the other vet is there to help and has no other agenda, trust bonds form out of goodness.
These non-college educated veterans live invisible lives in invisible jobs, doing construction, landscaping, warehousing, and shipping. They deserve better than what the country is giving them.
We at Sexy Food on Wheels, don’t have all the answers either.
But we have positive intentions and we pay our veteran associates well above the going wage and minimum wage, listen to them, find their strengths, and support their growth initiatives. Our intention is to see them realize their potential and help them get stronger on their growth journey. Stay tuned for updates on David’s rise from hardship to making a meaningful life.
This night at The Attic Bar & Bistro moved David one step closer to realizing his aspirations.
It was a transformation in motion right before our eyes.