In the last ten years, our country has changed in several ways. These changes have been apparent not only in South Dakota, but throughout the nation. We have witnessed increased gas prices, increased safety precautions, economic hardships, as well as the effects of war just to name a few.
One thing often overlooked is the re-entry challenges of those who have served in the military. In South Dakota, more than 6,000 Air and Army personnel have been deployed, many of them several times. Recognizing the challenges many communities, families, friends, and co-workers have come together expanding what is called the “Sea of Goodwill”.
Sioux Falls is one of those communities. The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation organized a special event hoping to expand the “Sea of Goodwill”. Tuesday January 17th, two members of the GU- Sioux Falls team were able to attend this special event which helped to discuss the needs, resources, and then brainstorm ideas to help with the transition into civilian life for veterans and their families.
Col. David Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Warrior and Family Support program, provided a touching presentation. Col. Sutherland shared his tale as well as other’s stories about military life, sharing not only those who were unimaginable challenges, but also stories of hope for a positive future for our veterans and their families.
Following the presentations, there was a round table discussion for some very brave members of our community. These individuals shared their very personal stories of how their lives have been affected by 9/11 and the aftermath that followed.
The touching experience did not end after the event was over. Director of Financial Aid, Micah Hansen, and Service Learning Coordinator, Brandy Gruis, attended a small group discussion later that afternoon, along with other members from colleges and universities in the area. Our staff was able to discuss with Col. Sutherland and his staff the problems we see South Dakota Veterans face and their families as well as brainstorm ideas to makes our soldiers feel more at home.
This was a fantastic experience and we as a community should feel honored to be able to have events like this take place. Sioux Falls has so many resources to help veterans and their families; however this road needs to be expanded and we are taking the steps to do so in South Dakota. We need to always be proud of our soldiers, veterans and their families, and continue to support them. We want to give a special thanks to the Sioux Falls Community Foundation for setting up this special event.