Cadets have the unique opportunity to join a veterans guitar jam session at the nearby Veterans Outreach Center in Norwich, Connecticut. It is one of the many ways in which a cadet can complete their required community service hours, but this event is special because getting to be a part of the Veterans jam session and hearing their stories feels like a privilege not a community service project.
I arrived at the Outreach Center on November 16th. I unlatched my guitar case and was welcomed into the guitar circle. This group of Veterans gathers every Wednesday and immediately I could tell that this was a family rather than a group of strangers. For the hour, we were a part of that family. We played Country Roads, I Sang Dixie, and Country Club while sitting on foldable chairs. One Cadet brought an electric guitar and played different riffs on top of the melody from 15+ acoustic guitars. It was therapeutic for all of us. Our brains only thought about the next chord to play, everything else faded away. This was evident by the smiles on our faces and the carefree laughs that filled the room.
Eventually, the session ended and we stood up to leave. The guitars were put away, but we lingered for a few minutes. In these minutes we learned about the career of those we just played shoulder-to-shoulder with. We heard about the Veterans flying careers and their grandchildren. They shared tips on saving money on airfare. It was a wonderful fusion of different generations and different stories.