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Honoring Those Who Made It Home

Soldier ON’s Alive Day just got bigger and better with the unveiling of the SOSD 12-foot oak tree sculpture designed and fabricated by Northwest Technical Institute Students.  Special leaf-shaped ornaments can be purchased through a recurring donation of just $10 per month.  Each leaf will hold the name of a veteran whose life is celebrated and cherished.  The sculpture will be placed at the Soldier ON facilities where it will celebrate the fact that veterans in our community that do come home do make all of our lives better.

U.S. Army SPC Skyler Ford is kissed by his wife Sara Ford during a homecoming ceremony for troops in the 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, with the 3rd Infantry Division, Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at Fort Stewart, Ga. Units from the brigade were operating in many locations in Afghanistan during their 9-month deployment, and many are returning ahead of schedule as part of the drawdown. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

This is about life.  This is about our veterans who do come home.  This about collectively, individually telling our veterans that we care … that we’re glad their alive.  And … no … they are not alone.

Simple question – do you know a veteran who has made a difference in your life?

Angie Pratt, Founder and Executive Director of Soldier ON Service Dogs, makes the case with her own testimony.  “I have a grandson today because my son-in-law lived another day.  He didn’t die over there.  He came home.  And … Lord … yes I am grateful.  How can I not be?”

“Our new Alive Tree will be something special,” Pratt continues.  “It celebrates life … living.  The leaves on our Alive Tree will carry the names of veterans who did come home and do make a difference in our lives today.” 

The point of Alive Day (December 30th) is to encourage all of us to take a moment and individually tell a veteran in your life that you are glad they are alive.   And … in the process … maybe save a life.  Veteran suicide is a real problem.  Statistically over 22 veterans kill themselves every day in America.  “We want our veterans to know that we care … that there is hope … that they do make a difference.  If you could prevent a suicide by telling someone you care … wouldn’t you … tell them?”   

The Holiday season can be particularly hard on veterans.  Many servicemen and women struggle with survivors guilt, as well as physical and mental manifestations after their time in the military. Suicide rates distinctly increase in the months of November and December. We hear from many Veterans that it seems like “nobody cares.” Help us show them otherwise.  Join Soldier ON Service Dogs to make all of our veterans know they are appreciated.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

The Alive Tree

The Alive tree is a 12-foot tall outdoor tree sculpture made out of rebar patterned after the tree sculptures at the Prairie Grove National Museum.  The sculpture will be made by the Northwest Technical Institute Students from material supplied by Home Depot and a generous donation from the Bank of Fayetteville to have the sculpture tree permanently installed.  The tree will feature leaves with the names of the veterans who our donors want to say they are glad they alive.

This tree will have a special place of honor in front of the Soldier ON office for everyone to see the names of those whose continued life is celebrated and cherished.

The Leaves of Celebration

The leaves of this tree are leaf-shaped ornaments designed by Avery Nelson of Forge Custom Metal Designs with engraving by John Lifer of Ozark Laser Engraving and will carry the name of the veteran who was able to come home and who is making a difference in our lives today. When you pledge a recurring donation of $10 per month, an engraved leaf will be placed on the tree in honor of the veteran of your choice.