War at Home memorial dedication in Broken Arrow brings attention to returning veterans

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Source: City of Broken Arrow

The 20 soldiers represented at the War at Home Memorial are now standing guard indefinitely at Broken Arrow Veterans Park.

It was a solemn occasion at the dedication of the War at Home Memorial with Muscogee Nation warrior drums, songs, and a procession.

There was a Blackhawk Helicopter flyover, the Gold Star families received a motorcycle escort to Veterans Park, and an Honor Guard stood at attention at the 20 individual monuments.

The Yakima Warriors traveled from Washington state and played "Taps," and there was a 21-gun salute.

Those in attendance realized the gravity of the moment.

"Please know that we do not take this privilege lightly, Mayor Debra Wimpee said to the families from across the nation who were in attendance. "These silhouettes and your loved one's memory will be safe and honored with us for years to come."

Wimpee encouraged visitors to the War at Home Memorial to come often and share it with others to help shine a light on the battle that returning veterans face.

"As I stand here, it's hard to shake the feeling that these 20 veterans are standing guard, ready to watch over me and others who come to visit," Wimpee said. "You can feel their presence. They were born to protect, serve, and provide light; through this memorial, they still are."

Mission 22 CEO Sara Johnson recalled the dream her husband, Chief Vision Officer, and Co-Founder Magnus Johnson had for the memorial back in 2014.

"When the silhouettes behind us were still blank plates, he wanted to create a monument that brought the community together to remember and honor those who served our country and its people," Johnson said. "Especially those who paid the ultimate price here at home, and to bring an awareness to the issues veterans and their families are facing and support them, so that no more lives will be lost again."

The Nations, civilians, service members, veterans, and military families that came together for the dedication represent how the country can heal together as one, according to Johnson.

Brad Hubbard served as an Infantryman in the Indiana National Guard and deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004. He now serves on the Board of Directors for Mission 22 and reminded everyone that these 20 silhouettes are likenesses of real people.

These warriors are mothers, dads, husbands, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles —they represent all of us.

"One of the biggest struggles we deal with is the transition out of the military," Hubbard said. "They teach us how to be great warriors and how to protect America, but they don't teach us how to come back to an America that's a completely foreign place from when you left."

The War at Home Memorial was made possible through a partnership with the City of Broken Arrow, the Mission 22 organization, and the Muscogee Nation.

Muscogee Chief David Hill said Saturday was a day to remember the silent struggles of our heroes when they come home.

"Right here on our reservation, where Muscogee roots run deep, I couldn't think of a better place or a more fitting tribute for the men and women who sacrificed so much," Hill said. "My prayer is that this memorial sheds light on the struggle that so many veterans go through when their active duty is done. We must never forget the silent struggles they deal with."

Vietnam-era Army paratrooper Michael Coon, who was instrumental in bringing the War at Home Memorial to Broken Arrow, said he had been on a journey for several years to find a permanent home for the memorial.

Coon's son, SSG Michael K. Coon served in the U.S. Army and lost his life to suicide in 2015 due to PTSD after three deployments overseas. He is one of the 20 warriors represented in the memorial.

"There's help, there's people out there that understand what our veterans are going through today with the hidden scars on the inside," Coon said. "We want to reach out to our veterans and tell them we are here for you. There is a better option to go, instead of this way."

City Manager Michael Spurgeon thanked the City Council, the Muscogee Nation, Mission 22, and all who helped make this memorial possible.

"I want this to be a place for people, not only from Broken Arrow but people from around the country, to come and reflect upon the sacrifices that these individuals made when they came home and to understand that it's because of those sacrifices that we have the freedoms that we enjoy today," Spurgeon said. "Broken Arrow has committed to ensuring that those who have served will never be forgotten."

“Anyone struggling and needing support, please reach out and get help," Mission 22 CEO Sara Johnson concluded. "If you are not comfortable asking for help in person, go to Mission22.com and learn more about the programs that are available."

To view a slideshow of the War at Home Memorial dedication go to the City of Broken Arrow Facebook.

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