Friday, June 21, 2013


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Blue Star mother Josie Monaghan surrounded by her all era veteran brothers and sisters.

Blue Star mother Josie Monaghan's dream of creating a veterans resource center as well as an all era veterans peer-to-peer group which meets and breaks bread with each other every Wednesday, with commonality, camaraderie and mutual sharing being the empowering agenda, has become a reality in Antioch, California: Allen L Roland

Heart felt authenticity, commonality and camaraderie are the bedrock of veterans rehabilitation.

As an active duty Navy veteran, as well as the facilitator of eleven extremely successful East Bay heart centered combat veteran transformation workshops (which effectively utilized peer to peer sharing, commonality and camaraderie in the self-healing process) over the past three years ~ Veterans, which include myself, often miss the deep bonds of authentic commonality and camaraderie that exist between fellow veterans who have all faced their inner and outer fears and demons in accomplishing their service to their country.

Blue Star mother Josie Monaghan, proud mother of a USMC combat veteran, sensed this community veteran need and created in 2010 a new alternative for returning veterans and their families with the ultimate goal of a drop-in veterans recreation center where workshops and peer to peer events could take place at any time.

Originally located in a small veterans thrift shop in downtown Antioch, California the rapidly growing non-profit community organization now includes an adjacent veterans antique store as well as a recently leased veterans recreation center ~ which now provides a space for workshops and the informal peer-to-peer Wednesday night veterans dinner meetings ~ where all war era veterans are welcomed to attend.

Josie holding forth in her Antioch thrift shop

Josie Monaghan is the Vet blue star angel mother behind this working dream ~ whose vision, relentless energy and giant heart has drawn others, such as myself, to volunteer their services to help make her East County Veterans heart centered dream come true.  See February 2013 Veterans Today article ~

Navy Veteran Jim Marchetti, Peer to Peer spokesperson, speaks movingly about what this ongoing group means to him ~ "East County Veterans is an organization like no other I’ve seen to date and it rises above any experience I have had since leaving the Navy in 1992. I stumbled across the thrift store first about a year ago and met Josie. We’ve been great friends ever since and the camaraderie and special connection I have with other veterans is something I get to share every week. The fact that this is a community based, independent organization is terrific and It alleviates all of the bureaucracy and other overhead in so many other organizations. Having a resource center is great ~ it is a place that is fun and safe for veterans from all eras and branches of service. I only wish more places around the country had a person like Josie to spearhead such a vision. The friends here are already my lifelong friends and I feel like I have known them for decades. I love my fellow service members and am so incredibly thankful that Josie had this vision, this dream, of providing a place where we can truly commune with our brothers and sisters who served."

Being real, commonality and camaraderie are the free flowing magic of this Veteran's Peer to Peer Oasis for the spirit tucked into the corner of L and 2nd Street in Antioch, California ~ about 100 yards away from the Marina and the cool breezes from the Delta.

It has certainly been proven with veterans elsewhere that heart felt peer to peer authenticity and realness fosters both commonality and camaraderie which in turn supports self-healing from the seen and unseen ravages of war ~ see 2 minute video on the veteran being real game.

To many of these veterans, including myself, being real is not a game but instead a way of life and a  loving place to come home to as 12 year Army female veteran TaiAri explains ~ " When I got out of the Army and moved back home I did not have a job or any friends. I felt hopeless and alone. Then one day I happened to meet someone who was talking about the East County Veterans' Center. I got involved and met Josie, our founder. Immediately, Josie and I had a connection and I knew I had found my second home. I am now a key group member at the Center and I am the Community Outreach Coordinator. I look forward to our many events, and especially our Wednesday night peer-to-peer groups, because these guys are my family. I finally feel that camaraderie I missed so much. I have a connection with my guys that civilians will never be able to understand. We share so much with each other; we participate in events together, and this is all because of Josie. She is our mother, our rock, and she has made this happen for us and allowed us to all come together. There is no other place in the East Bay like our Center and I plan to be a part of it for years to come. I couldn't imagine my life without it."

Long time Air force Veteran Sean loves the informality of the center with its pool table and veterans pictures hanging on the wall ~ " I feel comfortable around the other veterans talking about fun things, hobbies, current events and world events. What I really like is how the center participates in local events and is an integral part of the community."

As for myself, a five year active duty Navy veteran, I love the commonality, mutual respect and camaraderie that exists at the peer to peer veterans Wednesday dinner meetings. There is no agenda ~ but instead there is a genuine affection for each other that permeates this heart centered peer to peer group and especially toward our visionary founder and Blue star mother Josie Monaghan, who we regard as an honorary veteran ~ for we have all enlisted in her dream.

If you live in the East County listen to what fellow member Jeremy says ~ "The reason I joined this particular veterans group was because I missed the camaraderie I experienced in the military. I wanted to link up with some individuals that had/have experienced situations similar to my own. I was welcomed with open arms when I was introduced to this group and I’m happy I made the decision to join this group.  If you’re a veteran I encourage you to join us and I look forward to meeting you soon."  

Josie recently suffered the death of her brother in Chicago and when she returned to Antioch she realized that she had gained a dozen more brothers and sisters who lovingly welcomed her back to her family ~ that she had created.

For more information call Jim Marchetti (925) 642-0791 or Josie Monaghan at (925) 642-7537.     

There's a difference between camaraderie and normal friendship. In friendship, the individualism of the different people is accepted and helps the friendship; in camaraderie the thing that brings people together is commonality: All Quiet on the Western Front ~ where camaraderie is Remarque's main theme.

Allen L Roland

Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist and psychotherapist Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private Skype consultations ( )

Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his web log and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on

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