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ST. MARYS — A local senior citizen organization has been helping veterans share their war experiences for the past year.
The Auglaize County Council on Aging’s Vet-2-Vet program allows local veterans to talk with fellow veterans the first Friday of each month. Trena Chiles, outreach specialist and wellness coordinator for the ACCA, said the program started from interactions with her own father.
“He (my father) always talked about the war and what he did,” Chiles said. “My husband’s father, you would never hear him talk about it. But when they got together, they had something in common so they could relate and then we would talk about it.”
That interaction spurred the creation of the program.
“I found out with talking with some of our other clients, they would talk about what they went through and some wouldn’t,” Chiles said. “I thought that I would get them together and Doug Howard from the VA comes at the same time. They can come here and just talk about their experiences, what they did and how long they served. Some of their stories are amazing. I want to get them documented so people know what the guys in this county have done.”
The first year of the program started slowly. Chiles said veterans trickled in as she started to build the program’s base.
“We went through the first year and not too many people knew it was here,” Chiles said. “I’ve been trying to get things out to the VFWs and any clients we have are getting mailings out to them so they know when the meetings are. Word is getting out now and it’s growing.”
Chiles said she believes the program is a benefit to local veterans because it allows them to share stories with people who understand what they went through in battle.
“This is for any veterans in our area,” Chiles said. “We have World War II mainly and some of them have gone on the Honor Flight so we encourage that if someone hasn’t done that, to do it.”
The next Vet-2-Vet program is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Auglaize Council on Aging, 610 Indiana Ave., St. Marys. The December program will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2.
For more information, call Chiles at 419-394-8252.