Event in Winston-Salem brings veterans together after pandemic put damper on coffee, conversation gatherings

Buckley Report

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — (WGHP) — Trellis Supportive Care – what many remember as “hospice” around the Triad – has a soft spot for veterans.

More than 800,000 veterans live in North Carolina and, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the defense industry accounts for 10 percent of the state’s economic activity, second only to agriculture. But that’s not why Trellis loves them.

As a health care organization, they see a lot of veterans, particularly as they age, and having many veterans within the Trellis staff, they know the challenges they face.

“Two of the biggest things that are issues with people are loneliness and separation, from people,” said Trellis’ Don Timmons, an Army vet himself.

About six years ago, Timmons was Trellis’ point person in setting up coffee meetings for vets. Once a month, they’d gather and hear not just what services Trellis could provide but from other sources as well to keep vets informed. But, what it really did, was simply give veterans a chance to spend time together.

“This getting together is something that really is therapeutic,” said Trellis’ Xavier Beard, who retired after 32 years with the Marine Corps.

The pandemic, of course, shut down their monthly, indoor coffees. But on a recent overcast Thursday, vets appeared to be bathing in the sunshine of camaraderie, as they lined up in their cars to get a boxed lunch and a smile from Trellis in the parking lot of the Winston-Salem Dash’s baseball stadium in Winston-Salem.

“It’s just a way – another way – to get out of the house and connect – be connected – with other veterans,” Timmons said.

“It’s just that common bond, they’re still family, they still share,” said Anita Ford, who was trained as a nurse but is now Trellis’ vice president of Community Services, which means she oversees a team that does dozens of projects. This one, though, is special.

“What I am seeing is camaraderie, I am seeing the exchange of history and stories,” said Ford, as she looked out over the gathering with a smile.

“I was in ’71 to ’77,” said veteran, Hal Ruth, who served in the Coast Guard. “Appreciate y’all doing this,” he said.

Ruth is one of roughly 300 who showed up for this event — every one of whom left with a smile.

See the event in this edition of the Buckley Report.

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