Bridging the civil/military divide

Sharpsburg, MD

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Article below speaks to how veterans are helping the entire community.

Bridging the Civil/Military Divide
by K. Silvia

I hear this term describing how we struggle as a society to unify; to understand the experiences veterans have and translate that for a mutual understanding to non-veterans. Why is that? Veterans just want to blend in with the community and not stick out - to erase any disconnect from a civil to military divide. Why? because we, as veterans, want to gently (and with renewed purpose) assimilate back into the civilian fold. We did not create this divide, our culture and training did (by insisting we learn how to shoot and kill, to belong to a collective unit that was NOT our blood family). Like a snake's skin, veterans would like to shed this (forget the bad) and move on with life. And here is a place where they CAN!
Enhancing the civilian and military sector's mutual understanding of each other's lives and livelihoods can be done in a building where both gather. At the crossroads of Sharpsburg, Md.'s SR 34 and SR 65, just a short bike ride from the Antietam Battlefield, a community grows and this civil to military divide vanishes at a space called Victory Garden Ranch (VGR) at 101 West Main Street. (Look for the flags of all the Armed Forces branches of service waving atop the wide front porch. And you can visit their webpage at www.victorygardenranch.com.) Now, it's not an earthly garden, per se, but rather a safe and inviting space, where both military and non-military can go and weave each other's gifts into a strong community fabric.
Like me, the owners are Army veterans - Dwayne and Beth Harris - and also like me, they have seen war. But all they want is to assimilate, and give the community a boost up, a better tomorrow. That better tomorrow is where our collective next generation of kids learn, grow, take on a good job, raise their own families while securing a good education - all those life's treasures that are important to us both - and those seem to present a common ground.
At VGR, Dwayne and Beth Harris know how service to the nation can disrupt one's life, health and well-being. So, rather than sit idle, the Harris' thought they would do something for GOOD and open a space where you can browse and see military artifacts, or purchase goods made by or donated from veterans. You do not have to be a veteran to pause and visit or even attend any social awareness classes scheduled. VGR is a place where you go to have a professional photo done or sign up for the upcoming CPR class (24 June) or learn canning. Visit their webpage at www.victorygardenranch.com and learn more.
I am glad I stumbled across Victory Garden Ranch - to actually witness the thrill, the exciting buzz from the community embracing a better tomorrow. And no divide. There is huge potential in this space; you have to stop in to see for yourself. Here's the takeaway: hopefully many other communities will do likewise, and erase that civil to military divide and we all will wake up SOON to a day without any divide! Only the community's fabric of support to one another ... from sea to shining sea (not just Sharpsburg).



Submitted by:
Kathleen Silvia

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