October 30, 2023

Aging and You

It’s All About the Veteran

By Julie Arndt
Marketing Director at Ridgecrest Village

Veteran’s Day is around the corner on November 11. It’s one day each year when the country pauses to pay tribute to all our military veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Over the years as a social worker, I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for veterans getting various types of assistance, but this year is a little different for me. With so many veterans living at Ridgecrest Village and spontaneously sharing their stories, it’s given me pause to contemplate their service a bit differently. 

We recently celebrated Roy Porter’s 99th birthday, a celebration in which he was graced with two letters of appreciation; one from a current State of Iowa Representative and the other from a sitting U.S. Senator. Mr. Porter is a man who has served his community essentially his entire life in varying ways.  He was in his late teens when Pearl Harbor was bombed, which prompted him later to enlist in the U.S. Air Force.  He said the war changed him.  I hear that a lot from veterans.  Some choose not to talk about it, yet others spontaneously share their story. One thing that I’ve observed time and time again, is veterans are compelled to serve their communities, long after their military tour is up.  

In Mr. Porter’s case, his service started as a child, creating radios for the neighborhood kids — radios made from cigar boxes and repurposed wire from an old mattress. After the war, he pursued an education in electronics and eventually started his own business. Mr. Porter, like so many veterans after the war, continued his mission of service by serving his own local community for a lifetime: as firefighter, serving on the board of the City Planning and Zoning Commission, and during a 42-year appointment as Commissioner to the Sheriff’s Department.  In a recent interview, Porter said, “I’m happy to serve the community.” 

Ridgecrest is also the home of Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, a local hub founded in 2008 by Bob Morrison. Honor Flight is  part of a national organization which transports American Veterans to Washington, D.C., share in a day of honor at our nation’s capital. 

QC Honor Flight Executive Director Steve Garrington, who was part of the original committee for the local hub commented, “It’s always about the veteran…that’s what Bob Morrison used to remind us.”  When asked what it means to him personally to be a veteran, Garrington responded, “Veterans serve…it’s what we do. It’s part of our trade…it’s better to serve than to be served.” He added, “We all like to be remembered in some way and on Veteran’s Day we remember and honor all the people who serve (and have served) a nation that the world can look up to.” 

I also spoke to QC Honor Flight Treasurer Rob Damman, who although is not a military veteran himself, spoke so reverently of those who have served our country, I was moved to tears.  He said, “It’s phenomenal to work with all these volunteers…it’s incredible as we honor those who have put their lives at risk and others who have given their life: for me, for my family…for us to have this wonderful life.” He recalled one honor flight in which it rained all day long everywhere they went.  Upon their return to the QCA, a daughter was there to greet her elderly father who was literally soaked through.  She asked, “How did it go, Dad?” and he responded, “Best [blank] day of my life!” 

We take so many things for granted in today’s world.  Our freedom and safety rest on the backs of those who have given their time, talent, and in many cases their lives for you and me. The thread of service remains for many of those long after they return to civilian life. It makes our communities strong.  So this November, please join me in contemplating thankfulness for the sacrifices those in our military have made and continue to make every day so that we may continue to enjoy the freedom that exists in this beautiful country. Let them know what it means to you.

Julie Arndt, is a licensed social worker and Director of Marketing at Ridgecrest Village with over 30 years’ experience working in the field of geriatrics and senior advocacy. She can be reached at jarndt@ridgecrestvillage.org.

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