Soldiers and veterans share combat experiences, healing over coffee
April 6, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Soldiers, generations apart, discussed the realities of combat during "Java with Joe," at the Tropics, here, April 1.
Army veterans of the Vietnam conflict, Abilino Bagayas and Ben Acohido, sat across from two who Soldiers recently returned from Iraq.
The Soldiers sat in uniform, and the veterans wore vests displaying their ribbons, medals and other accolades. Over cups of coffee, their eyes met, and the four men began to share stories of battle. Generations lingered between them.
"We are here to exchange stories," said Acohido, "to share and help each other along the way."
Acohido explained the causes and effects of war and shared his experiences downrange. He then engaged the Soldiers in conversation, asking questions about their current service and recent deployment.
"There is healing in talking," said Maj. Adelaido Godinez, rear detachment commander, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT). "When you are allowed to talk openly about the experiences downrange, it is easier to accept them."
Godinez said the life of a Soldier can be difficult and very trying at times. He explained that often Soldiers are responsible for the lives and deaths of others.
"This helps Soldiers know that what they are feeling or dealing with is normal," said Godinez. "We can help our Soldiers and solve potential problems through this community outreach."
The day brought more than 20 Soldiers, who all listened to stories of the past and shared stories of their own.
"It's a way to learn about history while gaining a different perspective on war," said Sgt. Jackie Smith, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment. "They've been through it too."
For Sgt. Brent Townsend, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, sharing a common mission with the veterans held a strong bond.
"It opens your eyes to the fact that we are not the only ones going through this," said Townsend, "that Iraq and Afghanistan are not the only wars this country has experienced.
"There are differences of course," Townsend continued, "but in the end the mission has always been the same. In the end, we are all Soldiers."
The Coffee with Joe session is primarily for redeploying 2nd SBCT Soldiers; however, spouses of redeployed Soldiers are also encouraged to attend.
"Java with Joe" takes place every Wednesday from 9-11 a.m. at the Tropics, Schofield Barracks.
For more information, contact Letticia Rivera at 808-655-8134.