A time to catch up

Rob Reinbold, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12135 surgeon, leads a walk at the Wellness Center.

A group of veterans meets Wednesdays at the Wellness Center to fellowship and keep in shape.

The Walk with Vets program has been offered by the 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12135 for about two years after discussion between post surgeon Rob Reinbold and past commander Jim Jorgensen.

“We just got to talking one day and thought, ‘Hey, it’d be a good idea,’ and since I was the surgeon I brought it up at one of our meetings that, ‘Let’s just get together and do some walking’,” Reinbold said.

While the weekly walk isn’t flooded with participants, Jorgensen hopes more awareness will yield a higher turnout. Typically three to six people show up each week, but he said the size doesn’t matter. Simply being with like-minded individuals when catching up and talking about past military stories makes participation valuable.

“I would be lying if I said a lot of war stories weren’t swapped. They are,” Jorgensen said. “Not exclusively that, but a lot of military stories are swapped. Here’s what happens: I can talk to my children, I can talk to my wife about things that happen, I can talk to you, but the veterans, that’s when you get no-holds-barred, you get the real stories. Rightly or wrongly, most veterans have the idea that when they talk to someone that hasn’t had that shared experience, they can’t really open up. This is good therapy for people physically and mentally.

“... What happens is they tend to focus on the funny things, the positive things,” he added. “I can’t remember hearing any negative stories ever. Sometimes those are just too painful even to talk amongst your old friends.”

Reinbold emphasized the walk isn’t solely for those who served their country.

“This is a walk with veterans,” he said. “You don’t have to be a veteran. If you want to just come out here and walk with us, that’s fine. We do try to get the guys to bring family out here, wives or visiting children. It’s just a friendly get-together kind of thing.”

Veterans aren’t required to have served overseas or in a hostile zone, and they don’t have to be eligible for VFW, Jorgensen said.

Walks are 9-10 a.m. on the half-mile Wellness Center walking trail. Shawn Tallent, post commander, estimated members walk about three miles, but anyone is welcome to stop whenever they wish.

“One of the things that we are always about is veterans taking care of veterans,” Tallent said. “That’s also taking care of our own organization, too, or any local veterans. The health of our veterans is an important discussion. We’re here in front of our local community’s Wellness Center.”

Mental health is just as important as physical well-being, Tallent said, noting that will be emphasized when the local post holds a suicide awareness and prevention community program 4-6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the fellowship hall of the Community Church at Tellico Village.

“As we’re walking, we’re talking and we’re hearing what’s going on with the other individuals that you’re walking with,” Tallent said. “That’s really significant.”

For more information about the post, visit www.tellicovillage vfwpost.org.