By Sara Kirkley, Weekend Anchor / Reporter - email
Grand Island, NE -
As Nebraskans return from war, there's an effort to make the transition an easier one.
Monday, that effort drew in hundreds at the Nebraska State Fair.
A new event -- the “LZ” (Landing Zone) -- was created by the Central Community College Veterans and Military Services Department and the Veterans Community Task Force. The main attraction was several military S.E.R.E. (survival, evasion, resistance and escape) instructors.
Survival experts say learning how to start a fire may come with other lessons.
"Beyond the fire starting skills, beyond building a shelter, getting signals sent out, it's getting confidence in yourself, confidence regardless of what life's, regardless of what life's situations are. As long as you don't quit, you're good," said Grip Peters, a S.E.R.E. instructor.
It's a lesson learned by military survival experts and veterans who came to Grand Island for the event. Peters is still serving.
"We've overcome any hurdles that life may have thrown at us and sometimes a hurdle is simply getting off of active duty and trying to find a home," he said.
"As a veteran, I know coming back to a community, even though you were born here, you were raised here, you do feel different when you come back. You feel like you don't connect very well, you don't belong in this community," said Travis Karr, veteran and military services director for Central Community College.
The Veterans Community Task Force -- only about a year old -- hopes to create a community to connect to.
It starts with events like this "Landing Zone."
"This event is kind of like a catalyst,” said Karr. "We want to gather veterans throughout the state of Nebraska."
Enter the state fair, which provided the venue and access to hundreds of veterans.
The task force -- made up of veterans' organizations and services -- hopes they'll come away with this message: "The struggles are not insurmountable. You can beat them and you can overcome," shared Peters.
The task force plans to hold similar events.
They are also working to launch a veterans court project to help vets in trouble with the law get back on track.