As I look ahead towards Veteran’s Day this year, I can’t help but reflect on the sacrifices made by so many remarkable people – both in the past by the Veterans who served our country so bravely and just in this last year by the Veterans who work for Jericho Project. In light of all of the challenges we have faced as a City and as a country this year, I can’t quite remember a time during my 25-year tenure when I was as filled with gratitude and respect for my colleagues as I am now. At Jericho Project, we have always prided ourselves on the quality of services provided to our Veterans, but perhaps equally – if not more – impressive are the Veterans on our staff who have made it their life’s work to give back to their fellow brothers and sisters in arms. Terry Rivers, Peer Specialist at Jericho Project, is one of those people who embodies what it means to be both a Veteran and a part of the Jericho Project family.
When Terry Rivers enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard in 2011, she did not anticipate being deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, the next year following the death of Osama Bin Laden. Nor, as an artistic person, did she expect to be building underground field occupational bases – including mapping out floor plans and setting up cables for computers.
Yet Terry did all those things and more, becoming an expert in communications and cyber-security. “I had a gladiator mentality,” she recalls.
But upon re-entry to a hometown where “life hadn’t stopped,” she experienced the feelings of displacement familiar to many veterans. Ever productive, she got up every day to work but also found herself sinking into sadness, and eventually sleeping on friend’s couches. Ever determined, she sought support from the VA. Terry went back to school to get an Associate Degree in Fashion at the Art Institute of New York City and worked as a career-planning specialist.
Ultimately she joined Jericho Project in 2018, and has been able to bring a compassionate ear to other veterans. “We have shared experiences and we can speak to each other with understanding and reassurance,” she says. Since the COVID-19 shutdown she has actively stayed in touch with veterans by phone and text, making sure they have their medical supports in place, organizing art therapy sessions, leaving notes for them at the front desk at Walton House, or calling out to them over the intercom with a friendly, “How are you doing, young man?”
Although Jericho provides ample services for veterans, Terry points out, “There is nothing to compare with a veteran who has lost their job or may be estranged from their family. They walk into their new apartment with fresh sheets, they can take a shower, and anything seems possible.”
We need your help to continue assisting our Veterans in this time of increased need.
As a supporter of our work and of our armed forces, I am sure that, you, like me, feel thankful Jericho Project is able to provide permanent housing and essential social services to our veterans.
If you value the services we provide to veterans – services that not only save you tax dollars and save the city’s resources, but more importantly, enable people like Terry to keep giving back to the veteran community – please donate here or text “JerichoVets” to 44-321. Your support, no matter the size, really makes a difference.
From all of us at Jericho Project, thank you for your support and compassion. It’s needed now more than ever.
With Warm Regards,
Tori Lyon, Chief Executive Officer