SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Give Vets Hope is a support group for veterans, making a difference through bimonthly meetings and meals.
Co-facilitator and co-founder Holly Butler tells The Heartlander she has been an outreach specialist for several years and has heard numerous veterans stories that were troubling. In 2018, Butler met Vietnam veteran David Suits, and the pair decided to start Give Vets Hope.
Butler says VFW Post 3404 on East Atlantic Street has been instrumental in providing a meeting spot and anything else necessary for its mission.
“They have been amazing through this whole thing,” said Butler. “Every second and fourth Tuesday, we’ve got the post to ourselves. They’ve helped us with no charge.”
GVH started with two veterans in attendance and expanded from there. Butler and Suits recognized the need for improved structure in the group meetings and introduced a walking stick. The people holding the stick get 5 to 10 minutes to speak their mind.
“Our motto is that we want them to become good listeners for each other. The power of listening may help heal our veterans and their families. If I can help one veteran and keep it to where they have that support, then I’ve done something good. I believe in good deeds and giving back.”
Suits works hard to guarantee that his GVH family will be provided with their service-connected benefits. These benefits are for veterans with disabilities caused or worsened by military duties. Suits also works with VFW posts to assist homeless veterans by arranging motel stays for a week.
Individuals from the community have donated gas cards, gifts, food and other essentials to members of GVH. St. George’s BBQ and Catering donated Christmas dinner last year and gave discounted pricing on the group’s anniversary meal. Butler is currently arranging a Christmas dinner for this year’s guests.
GVH is composed of individuals from all branches of the military, including non-combat veterans. Butler acknowledges some veterans may be skeptical about joining and could be hesitant about conversations that may trigger their PTSD. Those who are not willing to speak can remain silent and pass the stick on. If anyone needs to walk away and have some personal time, they can do so without facing judgment.
“After the group’s over, everyone gets together and talks. It is pretty cool. It’s just like one big, happy family, basically.”
The group is seeking sponsors to achieve self-sustainability and reduce dependence on the VFW post for financial stability. GVH is seeking funding to support its members with emergency relief for car issues, rent and other necessities.
For more information, visit the website.