By Luke Baynes
A 2004 study conducted by the U.S. Army found that 1 in 8 soldiers returning from combat zones reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The study also revealed that less than half of those soldiers sought help for PTSD-related problems.
On the theory that even the most battle-hardened soldier can use a support system, military mother Patti Patton-Bader founded the nonprofit organization Soldiers’ Angels in 2003. With the slogan, “May No Soldier Go Unloved,” Soldiers’ Angels supports the troops by sending letters and care packages overseas and assisting returning soldiers with the adjustment to civilian life.
Soldiers’ Angels has local teams around the country, including Vermont Soldiers’ Angels, which is spearheaded by Barb Greck and Terri Sabens.
Greck and Sabens are currently planning a “Sale-a-bration Market,” to be held Saturday, June 9, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Five Corners in Essex Junction. Sabens described it as a flea market concept, in which any type of vendor is welcome to rent booth space for $30, with proceeds from the booth rentals to benefit Vermont Soldiers’ Angels.
Past initiatives organized by Vermont Soldiers’ Angels have included transitioning soldiers from veterans’ homes to their own residences, fostering pets while soldiers are deployed overseas and surprising local veterans with Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards.
Greck, a Williston resident, said she got involved with the group after she supported a local soldier following the Gulf War. She said the relationships she has forged with soldiers have been the most rewarding part for her.
“I really like meeting people associated with this whole effort. I love to meet people at the (Vermont National) Guard and the people that we write to. I love my adopted soldiers. I write them every week,” said Greck. “Nothing is more fun than to surprise a soldier in uniform with a Dunkin’ Donuts card, just to say thank you for your service.”
Sabens has worked closely with Lucy’s House for the Prevention of Homeless Pets in Essex Junction to provide animal companionship for veterans.
“One thing I’m working on is making sure our soldiers and veterans who have been injured can have pets where they live,” Sabens said.
Sabens added that she’s working hard to make sure the “Sale-a-bration” event takes place. She said only a handful of vendors have committed thus far, and they will be forced to postpone the event if they don’t sell 20 booths by June 2.
For more information about the “Sale-a-bration Market” or general inquiries about Vermont Soldiers’ Angels, contact Barb Greck at [email protected] or (802) 288-9644.