FORT STEWART, GA -- Veterans at the Georgia War Veterans Home in Milledgeville, Ga., were happily surprised when Soldiers and members of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program made the trip from Fort Stewart to visit with them, Feb. 9.

More than 50 Soldiers spent the day traveling, meeting and swapping war stories with the veterans that reside there in an effort to give back to the communities who support them every day.

"A lot of people don't make it out here," said Staff Sgt. Philip Phinisee, vice president of the For Stewart BOSS program, of the Georgia War Veterans Home. "All they see is each other. This trip really lifted their spirits and lifted our spirits. It was a good day."

All of the veterans at the home are Georgia residents of at least five years and served active duty or were commissioned officers during war time operations, said Jenny Roach, the residential services coordinator for the Georgia War Veterans Home. This state facility, which can house approximately 400 veterans, is the only one in the nation that is completely free to its residents, she said.

"We appreciate anything that you do," said former Sgt. Jim "Big Bad" Smith. Smith served nine years and was deployed to Korea during his time in the service. He said that he gets out everyday. He gets to do what he wants, when he wants to, but is lucky because he has the resources to do that. Most residents at the veterans' homr don't have those opportunities.

"That's why having you Soldiers here is a blessing," said Smith.
Most residents like Vietnam veteran Samual C. Williams enjoyed sitting and talking to the Soldiers and telling them what military life was like back when they were active duty.

"There's not too much recreation that we have," said Williams. "It's always good to talk to someone, get to know them. I think it's fine."

The veterans were not the only Soldiers getting something out of the trip and visit. The active duty Soldiers got a feeling of great pride and a bit of a history lesson every time they get to make a visit like this one.

"This type of thing keeps Soldiers grounded," Phinisee said. "It shows them that what they do on a day-to-day basis affects the community."

Specialist Rebecca Wagner, who just returned from a deployment to Iraq, enjoyed her visit to the veteran's home and told why Soldiers should do these type of visits more often.
"It really shows them where they came from," said Wagner. "This shows us what people have gone through for our freedoms. I think it's important to know about our history. We read about it in the text books but hearing it first hand from these veterans is a great experience."