By Lacie Lowry, The News On 6
TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- A Tulsa group chose the anniversary of 9/11 for the grand opening of a facility meant to thank and support service members. It's called Coffee Bunker, and the idea was the result of one mother's personal tragedy.
Mary Ligon of Tulsa wanted a place where service members and their families could go to talk about what happened in war. The answer was Coffee Bunker.
"Coffee Bunker is providing a place of connection, where they can meet together, and talk to each other, have someone who's been there and understands," said Mary Ligon, Coffee Bunker organizer.
Volunteers are trained in skilled listening, especially regarding military and combat culture and can provide resources. The services are free thanks to public donations.
"This is long overdue. The hardest step is admitting there is a problem and this place will make the conversation easier," said Brian Tomsevich, USMC.
Ligon wishes this had been around three years ago, when her son Daniel took his own life after his second tour to Iraq.
"In his words, nobody really understood what it was like to try and come home and back to normal in America when, in his words, ‘half of me is dead back in Iraq,'" said Ligon.
Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among service members are on the rise. In July, the U.S. Army released a report stating the rates of suicide among soldiers now eclipse the rates of suicide in the civilian world. Ligon hopes Coffee Bunker chips away at the stigma that still looms over those who ask for help.
"For me, it's about seeing no more Daniel stories, seeing no more families devastated by losing their loved one, their troop, to the hidden wounds of war," Ligon said.
In September, Coffee Bunker is open every Saturday night from 7:00 to 11:00 at Southern Hills Baptist Church, located at 5590 South Lewis Avenue in Tulsa. This is a temporary home. They hope to find a permanent one next year.