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NEWS | Nov. 10, 2022

Veterans on ice: Many ways to engage with former service members

By Sgt. Robert Torres 220th Public Affairs Detachment

Since 2007, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bob Yarbrough, media operations section chief for the 318th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, has been in the military and engaging with veterans daily throughout his career. For the first 12 years, Bob worked with other Soldiers 24/7 while serving on active duty. In 2019, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve; he was ready to be home in Michigan but also wanted to stay in the Army.

"Joining the Reserve in 2019 freed up more of my time to be active in the veteran community, and living in an area that has more veterans than active Soldiers made it feel a little more fulfilling. Less like I'm one of many, and more like my contributions have more impact".

Something veterans like to do is reminisce about their time while serving. It is always fun exchanging stories and experiences while serving. Many groups and organizations within Michigan can help fulfill that sense of service and engagement. Sometimes, however, it's just about meeting people with similar experiences and forging friendships.

"it's as simple as grabbing a drink at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and talking to some other vets about where you've been. I personally play on the Saginaw Spirit Warriors disabled veterans hockey team. I get a really similar feeling to a unit that's cohesive and working together, even if we are all old and busted and can't win a bunch of games".

To Bob, his hockey team is more than a hobby or something he does for fun. It's a fellowship built from culture and similar experiences with people who are there for you.

"My hockey team is like a support group, a room full of brothers. If there's something on my mind that is bothering me, but it's not exactly a mental health crisis, I know I can call any one of them at any time and hash it out," he said. "and it's developed into something bigger than just the Saginaw area. From tournaments and charity games we've played in, I've made buddies across the state, and across the country".