Serving those who serve

Published: Nov. 11, 2015 at 6:25 PM MST
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The Connection is known for serving delicious lunches to Blaine County seniors.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, it opened its doors to veterans of all ages and worked with Higher Ground, a local non-profit that provides a variety of programs for veterans, to help spread the word.

While the luncheon served many local veterans, Higher Ground works with veterans from across the country.

“A lot of veterans that come from around the United States, they come here, they see the beauty, and the splendor that the Wood River Valley has to offer, and they come back to stay, but all of our programs are basically veterans from around the United States,” said Colonel Rich Cardillo, US Army retired and Director of Operations for Higher Ground.

“Last year, September 2014, Higher Ground brought us, my wife and myself up to a fishing trip and we fell in love with Idaho and told them that we’re going to move up here. We kept our word, we did. And then they invited us out to this great Veteran’s Day lunch,” said Thomas Gary Hopkins Jr., a veteran who relocated from Texas to Idaho City.

The Veteran’s Day luncheon included the Veteran’s Table and Gratitude Ceremony. Each element on the table symbolizes a different way to honor veterans. The empty table leaning against the table is reserved for veterans who could not make it.

Over 150 people attended the luncheon, including veterans who served in World War II and the Korean War.

“A lot of new faces, maybe not new, but people who don’t come around here a lot. We do have some younger veterans that are in here today, which we’re really excited about,” said Kim Coonis, Executive Director of The Connection.

“There’s a lot of homeless veterans, there’s a lot of less fortunate veterans, that don’t have access to medical or good food and stuff like that. And for these guys to bring this on and to host. It brings awareness to the community of all the veterans and there’s quite a few,” said Amanda Shelamer, a US Marine veteran.

In addition to Higher Ground’s programs for veterans, there are other community resources available.

Including American Women Veterans, the American Legion in Ketchum, Vet2CEO, and the VA in Twin Falls and Boise.