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Pamlico Rose event shines spotlight on veterans issues

An art exhibit; a bike ride; a series of talks on the Turnage stage; a blues concert — it’s a lineup of events aimed at veterans, specifically the healing of veterans suffering from physical and emotional trauma.

The Healing Vets weekend is outreach to veterans from the Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities in Washington; it’s outreach to the community for support of the organization’s first project, Rose Haven, a reintegration home for female veterans recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and addictions the disorder could provoke. The event is part fundraiser, through sign-up of  20-, 50- and 100-mile bike rides on Saturday, and part informational, through a series of TEDx-like talks about the strategies used to promote healing.

“We’ve obviously modeled it after TED Talks, I don’t think we’re going to get sued for calling it VET Talks,” laughed Rob Greene Sands, PRISC’s chief executive officer.  “We want to raise awareness with veterans in the community about these different healing strategies, because every community is made up of many veterans.”

“The Warrior Who Can’t Find His Way Home,” anonymous artist. (Vail Stewart Rumley/Daily News)

The weekend starts tonight with an exhibit of artwork by veterans at Arts of the Pamlico’s Turnage Theatre from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Friday, registration for the Ride for Rose Haven and an outreach fair featuring veterans organizations from across the state will share Festival Park for the afternoon. A tour of the future reintegration home, PRISC’s pilot project Rose Haven, and reception will take place at 5:30 p.m., followed by VET Talks at the Turnage Theatre from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sands is one of the speakers featured in the hour-long event along with: Nate Gilbreath, U.S. Air Force veteran, clinical psychologist and Deputy Director for the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office; Gayla Elliot, an art therapist at the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, and more recently at the Intrepid Spirit Concussion Recovery Center; and Dr. Tracy Jackson, an expert in pain management through alternative therapies.

“The common theme is that healing is a process, and healing is a road to recovery,” Sands said. “Each one of us is going to be talking about a different approach to healing and offer ways to help people understand the process and the road to healing better.”

Raleigh-based band Squier Red & The Blues Band will follow the talks with a benefit concert at 8:15 p.m. Squier Red, himself a veteran, is performing for free; there’s no cost for the show, but donations will be accepted, Sands said.

“Turmoil,” anonymous artist. (Vail Stewart Rumley/Daily News)

Saturday starts early with sunrise yoga at Festival Park, 5:50-6:30 a.m.; and the Ride for Rose Haven will launch from the park at 7:30 a.m. after a short ceremony. The cyclists will have a special escort at the ride’s start: veterans on motorcycles.

“They’re going to convoy the riders out of town, so it will be a mixture of leather and spandex,” Sands said.

Sands said PRISC has been working with a variety of organizations to reach as many veterans as possible: the East Carolina Veterans Coalition, a collection of government and nonprofit organizations working with the Veterans Administration to advance veterans’ issues, as well as local entities such as Disabled American Veterans Chapter 48 and the veterans’ counselor at the Washington NC Works office.

All the events are free for veterans; all but the Ride for Rose Haven are free for the general public.

For Sands, the Healing Vets Weekend is about bringing people together to support one another.

“It’s for all veterans. … for a lot of veterans, they need to stay connected with people who are veterans.”

For more information about this weekend’s events, visit www.pamlicorose.org or email Sands at Robert@pamlicorose.org.

INNER DEMONS: “Thank you for your service,” a piece by John Mulder. (Vail Stewart Rumley/Daily News)