Recently I spent a couple of days with groups of veterans in Chicago. Each of them are exploring how to build a supportive community around veterans.There were so many things that struck me from this trip and the conversations that I had with them. I am deeply inspired by these amazing people and their commitment to service and to others.
I was struck by their ever present hospitality. They are all so intentional to meet people where they are at. One group there has created a coffee shop with a military motif and radical hospitality. It is designed to be a welcoming place for Vets to engage with others. They tell me that the trust learned in the military environment is a life defining experience. Trust for them is to be able to depend on another or an action especially when lives are on the line.
Now they are taking this relationship building into neighborhoods. They are learning that traditional services are helpful but can not replace community. So they are engaging with others and discovering the community assets. They are inviting strangers into conversations and noticing the gifts, passions and ideas coming from others. They are forming partnerships with libraries, churches, neighbourhood groups, associations, and neighbours.
At the core of this work is listening and a passion for people. These Veteran groups are building healthy communities for us all.