Valley veteran support group sees surge in requests for help

BROADWAY, Va. (WHSV) – A Valley nonprofit says that with recent events in Afghanistan and the end of a 20-year war, it may be a lot to process, but wants veterans to know they are still there.

Travis Coyle, executive director of Living Waters Freedom Initiative (LWFI), was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 while in the US military, and says that for him the decision to leave Afghanistan is a mix of emotions.

“As far as leaving Afghanistan, I don’t think anyone you know really has a problem with that,” Coyle said. “I feel personal and the others who have shared with me and who I speak to on a daily basis are just the mansion in which the withdrawal has taken place.”

The Broadway native says he started LWFI to be a support group for veterans as they returned home from the fight. Coyle and his wife Andrea say that over the past few months, with the pandemic and events in Afghanistan, they’ve seen more veterans reach out.

“I was on the phone last night with a gentleman from Michigan, I talked to some veterans from Arizona, we had a gentleman from Richmond come last night to our peer group meeting in Harrisonburg,” Coyle said. .

Andrea says it’s not that all veterans need mental health services, they just need someone to talk to.

“There’s going to be some kind of heartbreak, it was a 20 year process and a lot of them lost men and women they knew,” Andrea said.

It is because of this need that Coyle says he and his family will be leaving Broadway in a few months. He says leaving the farm is a tough decision, but will help the organization grow different chapters across the country.

Coyle says they already have veterans groups organizing in Florida, Bristol and California, and their hope is to help more veterans.

“No matter where you stand on the matter, we’re all in this life together, you know, do what you can, but there are resources out there,” Coyle said.

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Virginia S. Braud