Dan Lipinski, a former member of the United State House of Representatives, once said, “…[L]et us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.” That is exactly what the Rutherford County Veterans Community Center does (RCVCC).
Reason for the Rutherford County Veterans Community Center
The RCVCC came into being to “focus on creating fellowship opportunities for veterans by providing gathering spaces for veteran organizations, facilitation of veteran community engagement, and increased communications between veteran service organizations and the Rutherford County community,” says their website.
Founded by Brian Morris and Keith Prather, and opened earlier this year, the organization’s overall goal is to serve veterans and their families. According to an article in the Murfreesboro Pulse, “…[T]he two men approached Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron to speak at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall that was brought to Barfield Crescent Park. During the meeting, they mentioned their intention to create a permanent home base for vets in the area. As luck would have it, Mayor Ketron had just received a letter stating one of the county’s buildings was about to become vacant.”
The new building, at 439 Rice Street in Murfreesboro, allows Morris and Prather to consolidate resources and grow a coalition of veteran service organizations. They already collaborate with the Veterans Administration and the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, and the RCVCC has a Facebook page that they use to send out messages to fellow veterans about needs, wants, and opportunities. This often includes getting the word out about discounts for goods and services in the community.
Promoting Veteran Organizations, Events, Activities and Resources
Another thing the RCVCC does on their Facebook page is promote events that would interest veterans and allow them to share their experiences. Currently they are promoting an event at MTSU called Vietnam Then and Now: Two Soldiers. Two Artists. Two Journeys. It features the work of local artists David Wright and Chuck Creasy.
David Wright is a highly acclaimed artist whose paintings of rural landscapes and important moments in American history can be found in many esteemed private collections. His work has been featured in television documentaries and the covers of many books and magazines. Born in Kentucky, raised in Middle Tennessee, and artistically trained in Europe, he currently lives in Gallatin. He spent two years serving in the Vietnam War.
Chuck Creasy was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Artillery during the Vietnam War. He was born in Sumner County and studied at the Harris School of Advertising in Nashville. Creasy became a legend in the Nashville Advertising community; winning many prestigious awards both nationally and internationally for his work.
RCVCC also provides space for the meeting of various veteran’s organizations, like American Legion Post 141 – Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They hold their monthly meeting at the facility. Veterans of Foreign Wars Smith – Reeves – Rogers Post 4575 also meets there.
Helping Those Dealing with Mental Health Issues
Lots of veterans have been drawn to Murfreesboro due to the location of the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System – Alvin C. York Campus, which is part of the extensive Veterans Administration Medical Center located in Nashville and around Middle Tennessee.
Allowing those who have served to have a place where they can come together and share experiences is good for their mental health. That is another of the reasons for the existence of the RCVCC.
Chris Rochelle, Assistant Director and Employment Search Agent at the MTSU Daniel Veterans Center personally struggled after returning from active duty, and his program has counselors on-site who will immediately help those who are having a bad time adapting to a non-military life. He has worked with the RCVCC to help them find services for local veterans.
“I struggled for a while in 2005,” said Rochelle. “I lived in my car.” He eventually went to school at MTSU and a chance meeting with Charlie Daniel brought him to the Center as a member of the staff.
Community support, like that offered by Rochelle, allows RCVCC to continue their mission of reducing veteran suicides by providing local veterans with an opportunity to reconnect with their community and veteran peers. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Congressional Hearing, veteran suicide rates can be reduced by as much as 25% when veterans integrate with others with shared experiences.
The report states that successful prevention programs provide, “Community-based interventions includ[ing] promoting connectedness through peer norm programs and community engagement activities and identifying and supporting people at risk.”
Founders Have a Passion for Helping Fellow Veterans
Morris and Prather both had long and distinguished careers in the military, but their passion is now serving those who have dedicated their lives to the United States of America by serving in one of the branches of the military. They are devoted to maintaining the RCVCC and growing the Center’s reach and programming.
Brian Morris currently serves as the Executive Director of the RCVCC. He manages the daily operations of the organization and facility. Morris served in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years.
Keith Prather acts as the Chairman of the Board for the RCVCC. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving for more than 40 years. Upon retirement, he has focused his energy on homeless veteran outreach, minority veteran outreach, and benefits counseling.