A group of local residents have taken it upon themselves to create an event to bring both younger and older generations of veterans together this weekend.
Justin Phillips of Conway said he and a few friends — the three of them are veterans themselves — were hanging around one night when they started discussing what it would like to do something like that on a bigger scale; more veterans hanging out in a relaxed environment.
That’s when the trio decided to put together a night where those who have served could gather together, drink beer and play games, talk, network, relax and get to know each other.
“Just talk on a personal level,” Phillips said.
The event, “Central Arkansas VetTogether,” will start at 8 p.m. Saturday and go until midnight at German-inspired beer hall, Fassler Hall in Little Rock.
Phillips said one aspect veterans turned civilians miss when they leave the armed forces and get out of their respective military branch is that unified brotherhood constantly around them.
He said he hopes this event will bring groups together and fill that gap.
There’s another desire Phillips said he hopes is satisfied through this initiative.
“Here’s the thing, there’s a generational gap in veterans,” he said. “A big one.”
He said those who are older are typically involved with their local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) or another organization and those who are younger tend to struggle making those types of connections.
Phillips’s goal is to bring those two together, bringing veterans of all ages together for the night.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity we’re using to network with those guys and just reform that brotherhood,” he said.
Phillips said he’s spoken with varying groups and everyone seems to be pretty on board with the idea, including those who served in the Vietnam War, one that was highly scrutinized.
He said when that specific group returned home they weren’t met with support from the home front and often times, didn’t talk about what they went through with many.
What this event will do, Phillips said, is encourage all who have served to be able to share with others who went through what they went through, something veterans can’t do with those who never enlisted.
He said he fully expects people to open up for that reason, especially because they’re hosting the event in a non-threatening environment and overall, just because of the natural bond that servicemen have for each other.
“We’re going to be drinking beer and just hanging out,” Phillips said. “I think that’s going to come naturally.”
He said veterans will get in free — he’s also encouraging those that do come to wear their service-affiliated gear — but civilians are also welcome, $5 at the door, with all door proceeds going toward Arkansas Run For The Fallen, an organization that raises awareness for military service members who have died while serving on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
The civilian vs. veteran aspect, Phillips said, is also another purpose of the event; to bridge the gap between the two and give each other the opportunity to open up to one another.
“I think we’ll have a really good turnout,” he said. “It’s going to be a really fun event.”