By Morgan Roberts, Sacajawea Scroll
Every year, American Legion Auxiliary Girls State takes on a community service project. This year, much like the theme of Girls State, the community service project focused on giving back to those who have served the country.
Delegates and staff were asked to bring items needed to help with programs that work to help veterans.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there were 39,471 homeless United States veterans as of January 2016.
Men and women willing to give their lives for their country find themselves in a difficult position as they try to acclimate to normal day to day life after battle.
“They will never be quite the same because of what they have seen and what they experienced,” said Meghan Beukelman, a Chicago delegate.
As if it isn’t hard enough for those who spent time overseas to come back to normal society, many also deal with the stigma of war.
“In World War II, soldiers were welcomed home with parades, whereas with Vietnam they came home to debates and protests. These people are the ones serving our country and they deserve our support,” said Tatiana Chance, a Washington delegate.
For veterans coming home, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can make it harder to find and hold a job and impacts the way they communicate with people, among other things.
“We are very blessed to have so many people that will fight for our country and that risk their lives and I think that’s the least we can do is help and provide a foundation for their future,” said Caitlyn Claymore, a New York delegate.
This year, Girls State members and volunteers raised $1,217 as of Friday morning.
“I think it’s very important that we give back to our community of military members and veterans,” said Elita Eastman, a Seattle delegate.
The supplies donated by delegates include cleaning supplies, kitchen supplies and toiletries among other things. Everything donated will be going to the HUD-VASH housing, the Barakah House and those in the Transition in Place Program as they support Veterans. The programs work through the Sioux Falls Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
While the supplies donated can’t fix every problem these veterans face, they will help and the service project has raised awareness for the issue.