Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War.
More than 4,000 American soldiers died in that conflict, and millions of veterans returning home face many issues.
One Texas veterans' organization is meeting with local veterans groups in East Texas this week to learn how they can help.
Sean Hanna is riding all across Texas, meeting with community members about veterans issues.
"It's important, I feel, that I know what's going on, that I have direct contact with the local communities so that I can speak truthfully and honestly about what the needs of the veterans are, hear it from them," he said.
Hanna is part of the Military Veteran Peer Network, a statewide organization of trained veterans and family members that provides outreach and support for military members, veterans, and their families.
On his tour, Hanna meets up with county coordinators like Julianne Sanford, the Military Resource Coordinator for ACCESS, the Anderson-Cherokee County Enrichment Services, and members of various veterans organizations.
"It benefits our community to have a reason to rally and to learn about other cities and communities that are doing some of the things we're doing," said Sanford.
Hanna travels across the state to hear about problems the local veteran community has, like high unemployment or access to veterans health services.
"Are they getting the VA care they're entitled to, what are the limitations and difficulties in getting care, getting services?" Hanna said. "Particularly in the rural areas, where often times services are so spread out that even just transportation becomes an issue."
Military mom Mary Beth Scallon says it's essential that people help their local veterans; her son, Sergeant Daniel Garmon, has served four tours with the Marines, including one to Iraq in 2008.
"They give their lives, they give their time, they give all kind of sacrifices," Scallon said. "They face all kinds of things that affect them physically and emotionally and mentally, and they're doing it for us, for our country."
Hanna says that while he will take their needs and concerns back to Austin, he was impressed with the level these groups have already connected with each other to serve the veterans of East Texas.
Hanna will be in East Texas all week long, riding his Harley to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Lufkin on Wednesday and to the Rusk State Hospital Lake Lodge in Rusk on Thursday to hear other veterans and military concerns.
For more information about veteran's resources in Anderson and Cherokee Counties, contact Julianne Sanford by phone at 903-810-0303 or by email.
To learn more about the Military Veteran Peer Network, visit their website.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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