By: Diane Emeott Korzen
World War II Veteran Norman Sellers served in Pensacola, Fla. in the Naval Air Force.
He enlisted when he was only 17 years old, after dropping out of high school.
Through his military service, he was later able to get his GED, a doctorate, and start a National Bible College. He became a Pastor at Twin Lakes Baptist Church in Ft. Lauderdale.
Sellers was one of many Veterans honored Monday morning, Nov. 11, at Boca’s Countess de Hoernle Park.
Veterans Day – once known as Armistice Day, which celebrated the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918 – honors all military veterans who have served. The holiday was renamed in 1954.
The city’s ceremony was attended by Mayor Scott Singer, who thanked honored guests, performers, Boca Parks & Recreation staff and event sponsors Grieco Chevrolet, Broken Egg Café and Publix.
Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers, who is an Officer in the United States Navy Reserve, was also in attendance, as were Council Members Andrea Levine O’Rourke, Monica Mayotte, Andy Thomson, and State Representative Mike Caruso.
Commander of American Legion Post # 277 Tracy Burkett Velez brought Sellers up to the podium to be honored.
Burkett Velez also has a story of service. She spoke of the great sacrifice military families make to keep things going while their loved ones are deployed.
She served a total of 12 years, in Air Force Law Enforcement and as an Army nurse. For 2 years, she was deployed in a combat hospital in Landsthul, in southwestern Germany. She tended to the wounded from the battles of Fallujah and Mosul during the Iraq War.
Burkett Velez’s military career began after graduating high school. When she didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life, her father suggested she go down to the local post office and take an entrance exam to work there.
“Marine Recruiters called out to me. I knew right then I didn’t want to be a Marine,” she joked. “I did want to be in the military. I was married and remarried there. The military is in my soul.”
U.S. Army Veteran – and founder of Grey Team — Cary Reichbach joined the service as a young man, as his father and grandfather did.
“They give you 20 weeks indoctrination – a process to turn a civilian into a warrior. It’s not a normal thing to run toward danger or shoot to kill if the situation requires. The military breaks you down to the lowest common denominator, then builds you back up again — into a stronger person, no longer a civilian. You’re changed forever. You see things you can’t un-see…When our bodies can’t handle any more, they send us home, which is now a strange place. There’s no 20-week de-indoctrination. You have to adapt.”
Reichbach said it’s more difficult to come back to the United States than to go out on a deployment.
“Since 2001, about 3000 troops have been killed in combat, compared to 136,000 lost to suicide. Coming home to the USA is six times more dangerous than fighting on foreign soil!”
“The responsibility falls on the community, not the military,” he continued.
Reichbach named his 501(c)3 Veteran Charity ‘Grey Team’ after a government study that was disbanded 6 years later. There was no conclusion, he added.
Another statistic Reichbach presented is 17 kids lose their lives each day due to mass shootings, 20 U.S. Veterans die per day as a result of suicide.
“No one talks about it, or does anything about it,” he said, which is why Reichbach said he started his organization.
Grey Team is dedicated to building and implementing creative solutions for U.S. Military Veterans to reduce and eliminate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related suicides.
Reichbach said he tried to look at and incorporate some things he and others had done to successfully try to re-enter society. As a result, Grey Team offers: a Veterans Community Center with full gym and complimentary personal training; cutting edge technology and holistic recovery therapies; meditation and mindfulness; nutritional counseling; and mentoring by community leaders.
Grey Team, which has been in existence for 3 years, just got its own building a few weeks ago at 1181 S. Rogers Circle, #28. To volunteer, donate, sponsor a Vet, or for more information, go to www.greyteam.org or call 561-203-3815.