Kelli is a U.S. Army Veteran of Afghanistan and a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal. She lives in Manns Harbor and is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. She is also a volunteer for the campaign of Clark Twiddy for the N.C. District 1 Senate seat.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few” – Winston Churchill.

When we look at our country’s past wars, the number of American troops has decreased drastically. Currently, Veterans (of all generations) make up less than eight percent of the population. World War II saw 12% of our population serve in the Armed Forces. For the Global War on Terror (Post-9/11), only 0.45% of our population has served during this conflict, the longest in our nation’s history.

Think about that for a second. Statistically speaking, for every 10,000 Americans, only 45 of them have served in the military since September 11, 2001. Of those 45 Vets, only 36 of them served in combat. The scarier part? Only nine percent of the 0.45% of Veterans are women, or four out of 10,000 people.

The human psyche is a tricky thing... In some cases, our memories are so vivid that a sniff of a certain scent sends us straight back into a situation or a song calls to mind the exact moment when we heard it 10 years ago. As a natural defense, our memory will completely wipe out painful experiences over time. With the advancements that have been made in technology, you’d think our wars and the individual experiences of service members there would be better documented. In my experience, that hasn’t been the case.

When we’re talking to other Vets about our time there, most of us don’t have a lot to provide visual aids. Pictures taken have been lost as our cameras, laptops, and cellphones have died throughout the years. It isn’t just the pictures that we’re losing, it’s the history that each Veteran carries with. The Veteran Affairs Administration estimates that two percent of Veterans are dying each year. Imagine the stories that are being left untold.

There are so many ways that we can document this history. I hope that Veterans and their families have been taking advantage of the arts classes that the Veterans and Healing Arts Grant has been able to offer through the Dare County Arts Council. So far, we’ve done a painting class and a metalworking class. There’s also a pottery workshop starting this weekend, and a photography workshop starting on the 23rd. The pottery class is currently full, but we still have some openings in the photography class. For more info or to register, please visit: www.DareArts.org/workshops.

Don’t miss the Vet Art Show in the Arts Council this November. Pieces made during these workshops will be showcased there for First Friday, and the kick off of OBX Veterans Week. Each day we lose a bit of our nation’s history. The arts help Vets create a very unique perspective of their unique experiences... Even for those of us who aren’t artistically inclined.

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