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Friends of Veterans host BBQ, plan for big future

Airman 1st Class Manuel Hicks Jr., 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron response force member, visits with a resident of Trinity Homes in Minot, N.D., June 28. Hicks volunteered to help at a barbeque hosted by Friends of Veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall)

Airman 1st Class Manuel Hicks Jr., 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron response force member, visits with a resident of Trinity Homes in Minot, N.D., June 28. Hicks volunteered to help at a barbeque hosted by Friends of Veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall)

Airman 1st Class Krystal Kight, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron convoy response force member, visits with a resident of Trinity Homes in Minot, N.D., June 28. Kight is a member of Friends of Veterans, a organization that builds relationships with veterans through active community engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez)

Airman 1st Class Krystal Kight, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron convoy response force member, visits with a resident of Trinity Homes in Minot, N.D., June 28. Kight is a member of Friends of Veterans, a organization that builds relationships with veterans through active community engagement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez)

Members of Friends of Veterans volunteer organization served lunch to residents of Trinity Homes in Minot, N.D., June 28. The event is part of the group’s efforts to maintain the bond between veterans and active military members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez)

Members of Friends of Veterans volunteer organization served lunch to residents of Trinity Homes in Minot, N.D., June 28. The event is part of the group’s efforts to maintain the bond between veterans and active military members. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez)

MINOT, N.D. -- More than 40 members of the 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron's Friends of Veterans volunteer group helped host a barbeque at Trinity Homes in Minot, June 28.

The Friends of Veterans served lunch to all residents, including 36 veterans, at the complex. The purpose of the barbeque, as well as other events the group holds throughout the year, is to maintain the bond between veterans and active military members.

"When we join the military, we become part of a family," said Senior Airman Andrew Magathan, 791st MSFS response force member and president of Friends of Veterans. "We need to show these people they're still part of this family."

The event started with the members of Friends of Veterans serving hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, potato salad, and beverages to the Trinity Homes residents and many of their family members as well. While the patients ate, volunteers worked diligently refilling beverages, clearing tables or simply keeping the patients company at their tables. After lunch, the Friends of Veterans helped the patients outside to enjoy the sunshine and ice cream.

Although the group focuses on building relationships with military veterans, they include all members of the community in their events. At Trinity Homes, the Friends of Veterans had specific crews set up in order to ensure everyone in the facility was included. Some Airmen greeted people at the doors, others were out on the floor talking with the patients and some were sent up to the rooms of those who were unable to make the trip downstairs.

"No one gets left out at these events," said Magathan. "If we leave someone out during this event, we have failed in what we're doing here."

Aside from hosting many more successful events like the barbeque, members of Friends of Veterans have bigger aspirations for the future. One of the group's goals is to become a non-profit organization, which they are currently completing paperwork for, said Senior Airman Tyler Brittin, 791st MSFS response force member and volunteer. The group is also focusing on expanding to other squadrons on base in hopes of becoming a group-wide, then wing-wide organization and so on, until Friends of Veterans is nationally recognized, he added.

No matter what level the Friends of Veterans reach, they are truly dedicated to bridging the gap between active military members and the community.

"It helps all parties," said Magathan. "It gives the veterans somebody to talk to and it gives us that camaraderie to better jive when we're at work."

If interested in joining Friends of Veterans, contact Magathan at 785-210-4398.
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