The event, “Operation RAFTT 2011,” sponsored by Regional Alliance For The Troops (RAFTT) was held Saturday, January 22 at the Touhill performing arts center to support the United States troops, veterans and their families in the St. Louis region.
The event was opened by a performance from the United States Air Force band. The sounds of “Hot Brass” began the show at 12:05 p.m. Many organizations from the St. Louis community visited the University of Missouri-St. Louis on Saturday to provide free services for military personnel, veterans and their families.
“This is an outreach event for veterans in our community, letting them know that we are supporting them and their families. I also have a very good friend of mine who is over in Iraq right now” Tracy L. Davis, employee of The American Legion, said.
Various service groups were introduced to attendees, such as Consulting Outreach for Soldiers’ Families and medical services for people who have experienced a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
“What we are trying to do is to look at [participants’] brains and symptoms and compare that to those of civilians. So by doing that, we hope problems of [participants’] brain[s] can be diagnosed early if there is any problem found,” Jacob Bolzenius, research assistant from Division of Neurosurgery at St. Louis University, said.
On the second level of the building, a job fair for veterans who are looking for their second career after their service was also arranged.
“We are a Veterans Business Resource Center. What we do is help them to write their business plan or flesh out their business ideas. We basically guide them through the whole process from beginning to end,” Roger Horn, outreach director of Veterans Business Resource Center, said.
Some retired veterans also participated in the event, providing their retired co-workers with second career opportunities after their service.
“I’m a veteran. I spent 24 years or so [in the service]. I’m absolutely proud of my service. If I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing. I also I got my job through the state because I’m a retired military [employee]. It was a definite benefit for me to be hired as veteran’s employment representative,” Del Senn, veteran’s representative of Missouri Career Center, said.
Many volunteers took part in the event, contributing to lining up the second major event at UM-St. Louis after the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual ceremony.
“I think it is such a good idea to honor our troops, putting together all the organizations into an area so that they can collaborate with one another,” Carol Simon, event volunteer, said.
Many young participants also visited UM-St. Louis that day to support the U.S. servicemen and women. A small care package event for military members working overseas also captured many people’s attention.
“The primary reason that I came here [was] to get my kids exposed to great things provided for our servicemen overseas. I [had] two brothers involved in military back in Vietnam days. One passed away. So I’m trying to do whatever I can for our servicemen,” Dave Oleksa, employee of Daugherty, said.