Coffee and camaraderie, local veterans come together to talk Afghanistan

Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 12:02 AM EDT
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RICHMOND HILL, Ga. (WTOC) - Veterans who served in Afghanistan came together for coffee and conversation on Saturday about the fall of a country they fought for years to secure.

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, many of our local veterans have been looking for an outlet. Knowing how triggering this situation is right now, a local business and two veteran organizations came up with an idea to support their brothers and sisters in arms.

Anthony Valdez served 20 years in the army in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He said what’s happening in Afghanistan is heartbreaking.

“It’s upsetting in some ways. All the work that we’ve done to try to build on things to help Afghanistan become a better country. I felt some kind of way about how things are going down,” said Valdez.

He said veterans like him need an outlet to just talk.

“Just getting to share their experiences and kinda get it out, it makes it easier to come to terms with what’s happened, what went on and like I said it’s therapeutic.”

The community outreach all started with Tosa Coffee Company Owner Eric Rice putting out a call on Facebook. He opened the doors of his restaurant this week to any veterans who needed support.

“No expectations,” said Tosa Coffee Company Owner Eric Rice. “There’s no alcohol involved so people aren’t inebriated and going out there and having you know, the wrong discussions.”

Team Savannah for Veterans and Fight the War Within teamed up with the coffee shop to give veterans community support. As a 21-year-army veteran whose had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Chris O’Malley said now is the time to come together.

“It’s very confusing,” said Team Savannah for Veterans President Chris O’Malley. “There’s feelings of resentment and anger, as well as, happiness that other veterans and other military don’t have to spend time over there.”

Fight the War Within President Miranda Briggs said mental health in the veteran community has been a crisis for a long time.

“It’s so important to remember you are not alone. To not get in your head and feel like you’re the only one that this is impacting and being able to do this right now is such great timing,” she said.

Tosa Coffee hopes this is just a start and it turns into a monthly event.

Team Savannah for Veterans and Fight the War Within are both resources that veterans can reach if they need mental health support.

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