Happy Veteran’s Day 2020!  To all of those that so bravely served our country:  Today we take a pause to remember your sacrifice and offer our gratitude for your service.  Thank you for answering the call to defend American freedom and democracy. We know for many, those sacrifices are still being made every day even after you leave the military.  

Many Veteran’s Day events have been canceled this year as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Makin’ It Happen would like to ‘virtually’ celebrate the day by acknowledging our very own Brian Mooney (Community of Care Manager).  Brian is a veteran of the United States Air Force where he served as a crash (airfield) firefighter and medic.  

Brian enlisted in the Air Force as a High School student through the delayed enlistment program. Brian comes from a proud military family.  His father served as an engineer during the Vietnam War and both of his Grandfathers were aviators during World War II.  Both Brian and his brother followed their father and grandfather’s path by joining the military.  Brian’s family could not have been more proud when he chose to serve.  They welcomed the news that he enlisted and supported his decision to put on the uniform. When asked what motivated him to join the Air Force Brian said “it was a long-standing tradition in my family to serve our country.”. 

Brian started Basic Training in December of 1990. Three weeks after he enlisted the first attacks in the Persian Gulf took place.  It was a major life change to join the military but Brian said  “once I adapted to the military life I was proud of being a part of something bigger than myself”.   

After Basic Training, Brian went on to Technical School in Chicago.  After Fire School, he was stationed on the Micronesian island of Guam.  While in the South Pacific he spent time in  Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.  Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines was the site of a major volcanic eruption in 1991 requiring the closure and evacuation of Clark Air Force Base.  

There were no cell phones or emails in the early ’90s in that part of the world.  Brian wrote letters to his loved ones and waited patiently for the care packages his family would send.  Brian says that “it would take three weeks to get mail and getting mail was always a highlight of my time overseas”.   Brian also mentioned that he “did not expect to be as homesick as I was and I missed the changing of the seasons”.

Brian completed his 9-year enlistment in 1999.  After the USAF he went on to graduate school to pursue a Master’s in Health Administration.  Brian describes discovering a “newfound freedom” in his first few months out of the service but that “it was also scary to not have the security that the military provides like housing, employment, and healthcare.” 

Leaving the military can be a vulnerable and overwhelming time for many veterans.  Having individuals and communities that offer support during this transition time is crucial for the well-being of our veterans.   Brian remembers several individuals during his transition to civilian life that were particularly helpful to him during this transition.  Specifically, staff from the University of New Hampshire where he was pursuing his Master’s degree. “There was a wonderful gentleman at UNH who was the Veteran’s Coordinator, he was of great help during my transition as well as Dean of Continuing Education”.   

Today when Brian reflects back on his time in the military he says that “it gave my life structure and taught me accountability and integrity and built the foundation of who I am today”.    

Asking Brian what he wished civilians understood about veterans he said “civilians could understand better that the commitment and sacrifices are voluntary.  Those commitments and sacrifices run deep”.  He said it’s important for civilians to identify that “many people who serve in the military come out with wounds, some are visible,  or not”.   

We are so grateful to have Brian as a member of the Makin’ It Happen team.  Executive Director Mary Forsythe-Taber says “Brian is a good human, a humble veteran, a dedicated husband and a true asset to the Makin’ It Happen, team” 

We encourage you to find ways to honor the veterans in your life.  Some ways of doing that are by making a phone or video call, sending a text or social media message, sending an email, or visiting while practicing physical distancing.  

For any Veteran experiencing a mental health crisis please know that you are not alone.  If you are struggling reach out for help by reaching out to the Veteran’s Crisis Line by:

  • Calling 1-800-273-8255 and press 1
  • Text 838255
  • Chatting online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/