By Conrad Dudderar
A regular get-together for Yukon’s military veterans to network and share similar experiences has kicked off with hopes to grow.
The first “Coffee & Camaraderie” for veterans was Saturday morning, May 8 inside the Yukon Veterans Museum, 1010 W Main. The plan is to present a monthly event at the museum and perhaps other Yukon venues.
“This is essentially a veterans’ networking group,” said Yukon’s Rachel Church, a 21-year United States Air Force retiree. “I wanted to start something in the local community, for veterans in Yukon, so we can get together with like-minded people who have been through like experiences.
“Because it is sometimes difficult to integrate and ‘figure things out’ when you’ve spent years in the military and then you get out in the civilian world.”
And that is why Coffee & Camaraderie was created to support Yukon’s military veterans.
“We lose an average of 22 veterans a day who feel isolated, who don’t feel part of their communities,” Church shared. “I wanted to start something where, at least once a month, our veterans can get together with no expectations.
“They can come, have some coffee and chat with people who’ve been through some of the same things they have and understand the world they’re coming from.”
Church attended a recent Yukon Veterans Museum meeting where museum board member Jenny Crane told her about an ideal date for the first Coffee & Camaraderie.
The museum hosts a service day on the second Saturday each month to help veterans apply for Veterans Administration benefits.
“We offered our facility,” Crane said.
So, the inaugural coffee klatch was presented Saturday, May 8 in conjunction with the museum’s monthly service day for Yukon veterans.
Yukon veterans, their spouses and dependents are invited to attend the service day where military service officers help them obtain benefits they may not know they’re eligible to receive.
“Along with members of the American Legion, we are going to be a ‘focal point’ to help people find the service that they need,” Church said.
The next Coffee & Camaraderie will be 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 12 at the Yukon Veterans Museum.
A regular host site for has not been determined, and other places in Yukon may be enlisted for future gatherings.
Church first wants to get a consensus among group participants.
“We could rotate it around to different places,” she explained. “I would like to rotate it to veteran-owned businesses throughout Yukon and help out our business-owning brothers and sisters.
“Will we move? Will we have it at different places? I don’t know what the future holds. But, in its infancy, the Yukon Veterans Museum has been amazing. They said we could always go there and we’re always welcome.”
The Yukon Veterans Museum, housed inside the American Legion Building, shares the history of the sacrifices U.S. veterans have made for the freedom citizens enjoy today.
Displays feature uniforms, helmets, weapons, battlefield gear, flags, historic photographs, newspaper clippings, and military documents.
“We all agreed, the Yukon Veterans Museum is a great place to start this group, get it going and see where it grows from there,” Church said.
Yukon Veterans Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; with special tours available by appointment.
For more information about the Yukon Veterans’ Coffee & Camaraderie, call Church at (405) 808-0125.