In these tumultuous times, it’s gratifying to see two nations coming together to share ideas and strategies about taking care of one of their most honored groups of citizens: men and women who serve or have served in uniform.
The Kansas National Guard hosted six Armenian delegates in Wichita May 22-26. The Kansas-Armenia partnership is one of 25 European alliances in the U.S. European Command State Partnership Program and is one of 88 worldwide partnerships that comprise the National Guard State Partnership Program. G1 Support Services, also known as Family Programs, focuses on taking care of service members and their families in the Kansas National Guard and has been connecting with Armenians with similar programs since the early 2000s.
“Our team was excited to revisit the topic of Soldier care with our Armenian partners,” said Holly Chapman, State Family Programs director. “This visit shared just a few of the many ways that the Kansas National Guard takes care of their Soldiers and Airmen.”
During the week, the Armenian delegation visited several locations around Wichita, including United Way of the Plains, the Botanica Gardens, the Robert J. Dole Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, VFW Post 112, and the Kansas Veteran’s Home. The visits showcased initiatives and programs available for veterans and their families.
“I was looking for mental health resources that weren’t strictly ‘mental health resources,’” said Jennifer Villarreal, Soldier and Family Readiness specialist. “Working with your hands and getting into the dirt can be very therapeutic. Sandra Wagner (Resilience, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention Program manager) did a great job finding agricultural programs that we thought would be beneficial to share.”
Tawnie Larson, Kansas State University AgrAbility Project, was one of several organization representatives who met with the Armenian delegates at the Heartland Preparedness Center to discuss their agricultural programs. Larson explained how the AgrAbility program addresses some of the conditions that affect agricultural work, such as paralysis, amputations, and other injuries, by helping to provide access to equipment and modifications to farming implements.
Retired Brig. Gen. Eric Peck shared information about the SAVE Farm, another agricultural initiative, which offers year-round classes to the public to learn how to farm and serves military members and veterans particularly well.
To continue the Soldier care partnership, G1 Support Services will be sending a small delegation to Armenia in September of this year.