Aurora wellness fair: 'Veterans go through things the public can't imagine'
For Batavia veteran Larry Orsborn, attending the wellness fair in Aurora Thursday for veterans was the "right thing to do."
"Unfortunately there are not a lot of 'outside' people who know as much about the resources available as the people that are here do," Orsborn said.
The fair at Waubonsee Community College's downtown Aurora campus was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-Naperville) and featured a variety of organizations which focus on the health of veterans, including the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission, the DuPage County Vets Center and Heartland Service Dogs.
Foster said getting the specialized groups together in one place was important because "veterans go through things that the public can't imagine."
"Veterans often need medical and psychological assistance and often for them, it is hard to ask for help, but we want them to know they are not alone," Foster said. "This is the first time we've focused on offering these services (at a special wellness fair) and there remain so many problems like suicide and things that sometimes don't affect veterans until much later."
Foster said based on the response, other similar wellness fairs could follow.
"We wanted to offer this to vets and their families, who are often the ones who first intervene," he said.
Aurora's Prince Karpeh was one of the first visitors to the fair who stopped at the Ranger Nutrition booth. Karpeh said he has a lot of friends from school that went into the service and wanted to learn more about the resources available to them.
"I'm not in the service myself, but I think some of these products are amazing, and overall, I wanted to learn what was available for people," he said.
The Heartland Service Dog group from Mokena included volunteer Rosemary Nelson of Bolingbrook, who said dogs are trained to provide service in four areas.
"We have dogs that work in the areas of diabetic alert, hearing, mobility, and PTSD," she said. "People are surprised dogs help out in the PTSD area, but there is a chemical reaction that occurs in people with the anxiety component and the dogs smell that."
Mark Basolo of Mokena said he has had his own support dog Eva for three years and called her his "saving grace" and the thing that has allowed him to take his life back.
"When I first got involved with Heartland, I had been living in the basement of my house for three weeks with a sheet over my head," he said. "I worked with the Department of Corrections and I suffer from nightmares and flashbacks and when I go out in public, I can't even remember where I parked. Eve helps me with that and has become my lifeline. She takes care of me."