Younger military veterans meet monthly for coffee and conversation

Younger military veterans meet monthly for coffee and conversation
March 26
00:10 2020

Nike Roach has a heart for veterans. As a veteran himself, he enjoyed the monthly Vets Coffee held by Trellis Supportive Care at PDQ restaurant on Stratford Road. He discovered, however, that younger Gulf War veterans, unlike many Vietnam War era veterans, are parents juggling stressful career ambitions while also raising school-aged children. It is very challenging for them to find enough time to seek guidance and support from like-minded members of the community, who share a mutual sense of respect and understanding. Events held by organizations, such as the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, and even military lodges, often attract older veterans during business hours, which made it difficult for younger veterans to attend. Roach knew that being able to meet and talk with other veterans similar in age was an important way to ensure veterans’ long-term wellbeing.  

Roach, who is a licensed massage therapist and owner of Sixth Sense Health and Wellness Center, along with retired Marine Jessie Almanza, reached out to Vietnam War veteran Don Timmons of Trellis Supportive Care, to host an educational coffee meeting to support Gulf War veterans. Their goal was to connect younger veterans over coffee and conversation and to provide them with an outlet to address essential issues, such as Gulf War Syndrome. Often Gulf War veterans do not receive ample support, which leads to loneliness and isolation.  

The coffee meetings have been drawing several veterans the second Saturday of each month and are providing a friendly and comfortable environment for veterans from Desert Storm, Afghanistan War, and current Gulf War conflicts. The coffee meets provide more than just friendship among comrades. The young vets also gain knowledge and share insights regarding events out of Congress, the White House, and the Veterans Administration, which addresses the Gulf War Syndrome, PTSD and other service-related issues.   

Gulf War Syndrome is a chronic and multi-symptomatic illness affecting returning military veterans of the Persian Gulf War from 1990-1991. The unexplained symptoms include, but are not limited to, muscle pain, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and cognitive or behavioral issues. Out of the nearly 700,000 troops, an estimated 25% to 32% reported symptoms and chronic unexplained health problems post-war.  

A follow-up study by the National Health Survey that was undertaken by Gulf War veterans and their families showed a substantial prevalence of symptoms experienced by the Gulf era troops, compared to older veterans. The war caused severe stress and anxiety leading to a widespread dependency on opioids, with survivors battling long-term addictions. Younger veterans require a higher level of support to combat PTSD than what is currently available. A friendlier environment while meeting over coffee has proven potential for supportive comradeship while increasing community involvement. The monthly coffee meetings help beat loneliness, isolation, and depression that are contributing to addiction problems. 

The Gulf War Veterans Coffees are held on the second Saturday of each month at New Beginnings Church, 4555 Shattalon Drive from 8:30-10:30 a.m. During the meeting, veterans can get direct access to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ representatives, community partners, and local leaders to improve the lives of the veteran and their families. The aim is to provide a safe and politics-free environment to help the veteran and their loved ones learn more about benefits, create friendships, and talk about current challenges. The events are open to ALL military veterans and those on active duty. To learn more, go to

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