Welcoming Veterans Panel Part 3

Welcoming Veterans Panel Part 3

And like, what are you looking for when
you’re maybe looking at different organizations that
offer them as far as what discount allows as far as
like number of people or having to pick those tickets up at
will-call it or having to pick them up in person. And showing some sort of
identification, how you feel about how discounts work? That’s something that we talked
about before. And a lot of museums have, you know, like
free entry for active duty Veterans. But when I was active
duty, I went to the museum once when I was on leave, like I was
never able to do that. If you have a free admission for
Veteran, like you said, most Veterans concur that they’re
Veterans. If you have free admission for Veterans they’ll
gladly pay for their spouse or their kids to go so and you
know, whatever add on. So, you know, so like the Field Museum,
if you have free general admission for a Veteran,and then
they have to pay for the extra things, they’ll do that. They’ll do that
gladly, as long as they get that free entry,and they’ll pay for
their family members as well. At least in my opinion. Like I would–I don’t mind
paying for my wife if I’m free. And that, that’s an incentive
also for other Veterans. You know, I’m going to bring my
family, you know, one person out of the five is
free. That’s not a really big hit for you guys I don’t think.
I dont know, I’m not an economist I’m an Englist major. Yes, we’ll take off a little
kudos we can get because we don’t get a whole, whole lot. So
discounts, free admissions to certain things will be greatly
appreciated. And you will be probably overwhelmed to see the
amount of Veterans that will come out the woodwork and
participate. And I can probably hook you guys up with
information for a lot of different Veteran organizations
where you can’t outreach to find those people, if you’re thinking
about going down that course. Until recently, I mostly never
got involved with the idea of a Veteran’s disount, I think it’s
from that 50 years ago thing of button it up and put it away.
But until the state of Illinois gave me the driver’s license
that says Veteran on it, I would not have had anything on my
person where I would be able to prove to you that I was a
Veteran. So I wouldn’t step up and ask for the Veteran’s
discount, unless somebody said well let me see your DD-214.
Discharge papers. Or let me see your, and I
wouldn’t have it and I’m not, I’m not going to ask and then
get rebuffed. I’ll tell you a brief story. I went with one of my daughters
we were in New York State and she said, Dad, don’t you want to
go to the Baseball Hall of Fame and I said Yeah. What’s the
trade off? Well we have to go shopping next day. So we went to the Hall of Fame
where we’re standing in the lobby. Anybody’s been to
Cooperstown? As you’ve noticed the price of
admission, there’s a whole billboard with the different
categories and prices and discounts. And I’m standing
there looking at it. And here’s my kid, and she’s saying off
into the distance, the clerk is over here, she’s saying off into
the distance, “Hey Dad, do you suppose they would give a
discount to you because you were a Vietnam combat veteran?!” [laughter] And fortunately for us the clerk
at the counter said, why of course, please step over
here sir, thank you for your service. So I don’t know if that
addresses it. [laughter] Sure. It isn’t a big, if it
isn’t a big deal. If it isn’t a big deal. May I say something too? Now
that you asked. This is actually going to be probably the most
important thing I want to share that would make a place more welcoming, more inviting–
any place. Discounts are wonderful. I don’t think anybody doesn’t
appreciate that. It’s nice. It’s a wonderful gesture. I appreciate, and I use them. I think they’re great. How about
the, you know, Veterans on Veterans
Day to get that free meal. Over at Chili’s. There’s so many
places that do that every cup of coffee at Starbucks. I’m there. Free food, I’m there. But the most important thing I
want to say as a female Veteran. From my perspective. You and I were talking earlier
about it. Oh yeah, I’m with you. You’re here with me on this. I’m going to share a very brief
thing. About Boot Camp The week before we graduated
boot camp, the drill instructors gave us a little talk. This is
at Paris Island, South Carolina in the late 80’s. And I
remember, like it was yesterday, Part of the “let’s go team” when
you graduate and get out in service. This is what you’re
going to encounter. And this is who can help you with whatever
problem you encounter is. Yeah. Be careful of the sexual
predators in the service. And if you have a problem, go to your
CO. Report it. There is help. Here’s the number where you can,
you know. And, you know, that stuck with me. I’m like, gosh,
this is supposed to be a joyous, joyous occasion boot camp, and
here we’re being warned about sexual predators. So and you
know, It was a problem then, it’s a problem now. Thank God there are a lot of
people trying to do something about it. You know, it’s a
different experience for a female to be in the military. Than their male counterparts. We are rather powerless. But let me tell you something.
What, since I’ve been discharged, what’s been more
important to me than anything is entering a place feeling safe
and not threatened. And if I can impart anything to the people
here to everybody here, anybody who’s going to listen to this
once we’re finished is make it a safe, warm, welcoming
environment from the moment we walk through those doors, and
whatever you need to do. Please put your heads together and do
it. Do we find that many places, sure. Can be do better? Sure.
It’s wonderful that we’re here. Because the CCAC is attempting
to do that. And I couldn’t appreciate Lynn and her staff
more. Right now, I just can’t believe that you’re doing this.
And we’re so I’m so grateful that we’re here. So we’re part
of this process. But what we have lost track of, I think, is
human kindness, even welcoming human compassion. And in the
zest to be named the most cutting edge, doing this, that
and the other in our organizations, we need to get
back to the basics, be kind, respectful. Remember that there
are women, not just Veterans, but women who may be feeling
threatened from just walking right through that door. And
this is, we can extrapolate what I’m saying about a Veteran to
anyone. This applies to humanity. So let’s get back to
being kind and I just love to be welcomed and feel like I’m in a
safe place. Some organizations, I don’t feel that way, and
they’re in this city and they’re large, very large organizations
and cultural organizations that have a lot to offer in the way
of education and interactive programming and cutting edge but
sometimes I walk through the door and I don’t feel safe, it’s
just too, it’s immediately loud when I go through the door. I
want to have the option to not have loudness snapped in my face
or if the staff is not welcoming me in a non threatening way
right off the bat I notice that. I still enjoy myself but it’s
not the same. So that’s just what Iwanted to.. Thanks for that, I think we have
one more question…. Can I answer a question that
wasn’t asked? [laughter] Sure. I’ll toss this out semi
rhetorically to your organizations. Why do you want
to attract Veterans? Now I appreciate that you all are out
here trying to figure out how do you lower the barriers to
Veterans using your facility, coming through facility. My
question to you is; Has anybody asked why do you want Veterans
to come? Now, I’ve been doing this,
interrelating with the public for a bunch of years now, thank
goodness. I’ve gotten used to speaking. But some organization,
some places, only want Veterans to come in and you’re talking
about the Veterans discount, put a sticker on our Veterans
discount. WHY do you give a Veterans
discount? Well, because then they’re going to come in and
they’ll bring their family members and they’ll all spend
money. Okay, so it’s a marketing thing
to get more people to cross the door. It’s like free meals for
kids. Okay, well, that means the
adults have to bring them and they have to spend money. So I would say there’s a
question to ask yourself, WHY do we want to attract Veterans? Is it, is it marketing is it
part of the business plan, that’ how you generate bottom line. Y
u have to generate bottom line, other But why Veterans? I’m not sure I have your answer. Is it because we want to feel
like we’re, waving the red, white and blue? You understand I came from a
generation where people didn’t care if you were a Veteran. You submitted a resume for a job
and you listed, I was in charge of 197 men, the $15 million
equipment budget. That’s fantastic. Tell me about that.
Well, I was an armored cavalry troop commander in VIetnam.
Doesn’t count that’s just Army. That doesn’t count. So now we’re the other way. So I would ask you if you’re
saying to yourself, why are we trying to attract Veterans? Why?
Is it alturistic, is it for the bottom line? And then drive your
passions for what your purpose is, but if it’s just we’re
trying to attract Veterans, because we want guys walking
around in the black, ball caps and look how cool we are…Nah,
keep it. I don’t need to hear it. Can I get an Amen from the
choir? If you’re done, yeah, I’m sorry,
Ned reminded me this was something specifically told to
me by two different individuals I talked to in preparation for
this panel was, and I’m not saying any organization out here
in the audience, hopefully coming to an event like this
would know better but, don’t do what we call “Pet-A-Vet”. Pet. A. Vet. There it is, there
it is. [laughter] More laughter. Cheers. [louder laughter] So I have had two different
individuals. In the past, good friends of mine, who were
invited to the you know, come behind the scene, see how it
works. We’re going to bring you and some other Veterans and show
our appreciation for you and X,Y and Z and you’re going to have a
full day. Bring the whole family! And they get there and there’s
news, there’s media and look how good organization is, and that
feels real bad. And I got a lot of head shaking
from the audience, so hopefully that’s understood but you
immediately lose that person and their circle of friends or their
circle of friends can no longer go to that organization and it
doesn’t look good and I’m sure that’s the same as any situation
demographic you’re trying to cater to by doing something like
that. But there, you know especially
with the wars being unpopular but true support is popular like
we talked about support the Warior not the War, if that’s
what you want, you know? A lot of, it’s just come to
experience that some organizations show they support
the warrior by showing they support the warrior with news
and articles and that’s just not appreciated, but on the other
hand, though, Veterans do have that small tight community like
we talked about where, you know I’m a Veteran, Okay, me too,
we’re immediately friends. Where if your organization does reach
out to the VFW or the the other organization I can’t remember
because my brain isn’t working anymore. But um, if you do things like
that, where you bring in Veterans and their families
behind the scenes and show them like, let’s be honest, the
ballet…that would be incredible, fantastic and I
know, it might be hard on you, but Veterans are going to talk
about that visit to any other demographic, to their other
people in their demographic, and their people are going to talk
about it as well, and it’s just gonna increase respect towards
that organization, that that, you know, in this case, the
cultural center that that you go to, it’s going to increase, you
know, attendance from that population as well. So, I think that can go both
ways and on the on the right way can be very impactful in if
that’s what your goal is to reach out and show Veterans that
you are accommodating to Veterans, you care about their
support. You care about their, I’m not saying care about their
support as in like make sure, you know, they know you care
about them, but telling them that we care that you’re patrons
of our events too you know, we want you to be in this crowd. That’s also very important. Can I say a positive thing?
Since I was Debbie Downer I should add a positive one. Not long ago, Chicago Symphony
Orchestra contacted a Veterans Organization I’m affiliated
with, and invited us to rehearsal. We got to go and sit in the
audience with rehearsal for several hours. And every time
they would pause, you know, they have to rearrange the chairs,
drain spit valves on brass instruments and that kind of
stuff. Somebody from the orchestra would come out and sit
with us and explain what’s going on. This is why we’re doing that
when this piece is coming up. And then you heat that… And thank you for service, which
is always an awkward thing to answer. Well, you’re welcome. You know what you’re saying, but
I should give a plug for the CSL that, like you’re talking about
backstage, we got to come for rehearsal, which no, it’s not
the whole full blown Symphony, but you got to listen several
hours of some of the most beautiful music in the world by
the world’s most talented musicians, and then they would
come out and chat with you, I’m not in the next set, so is it
okay if I sit here with you and we talked about what’s
happening? Yes. Okay, we have time to have one
last question. Hi, thank you. So I work at
Garfield Park Conservatory, which sometimes is really quiet
and great as far as the sound, but other times it can be very
loud. There’s school groups, there’s a lot going on. So as far as planning your
visit, we could share that information on when it is
quieter. Like Monday’s, no school groups come. But what’s the best way to get
that information out? I mean, you could go to the different
groups and say this is when it is, but when you plan your visit
to a museum, I know if you’re going to a show it’s different.
It’s like a two hour experience but when you go to a museum, how
do you choose when to go and how do you find that information of
when it would be best to visit as far as noise? Okay, this is, this is this is
going to answer your question for most of you out there. Some of the best ways I think
for you all to get recognition and keep the word out is
sending, we said already, the local Veterans hospital, Jesse
Brown, Hines VA, they have great volunteer programs called
Strikeforce, where they disseminate all kind of, any
kind of information that you want a good amount put out, so
that would probably be the first good step in organizations that,
that are doing what other organization–like I said I’m a
member of several different organizations, so I will be
happy to leave my contact number and when you guys get your
flyers or whatever together or whatever, I could probably set
you up to come, to the Veterans facility where you can
disseminate a lot of your information and you know, go on
from there so it’s relatively easy. You don’t know, if you
guys can get it out to the VA hospitals they’ll gladly put it
out. Touch on again on the website.
If you have a plan-your-visit spot on the website just include
what days are less hectic, maybe but honestly for myself, Google
reviews has peak hours of business, and has a lot of
times, days that are more frequented than others as well
as hours. Maybe the homepage of, for now
til the word gets out, the homepage of your website could
have something on there as well. And included on any specific
marketing materials itself, for the event itself. So that would
be my 2 cents, which I’m sure everyone’s thought of already. If i’m listening to you
correctly, are you specifically talking about Veterans? That’s
why I was suggesting for us particularly, the Veteran
population, you want to involve them as well. Because often
often Yes, that’s the best way to get anyone to come to your
facility, but if youre particularly on targeting
Veterans, I think a Veteran organization would be more
intact. Like I say, a lot of veterans, they
don’t really
participate in a lot of stuff because of different, different
reasons. But they do deal with, they have to deal with Jesse
Brown and Hines VA, and the other
organizations, because
that’s their network. That’s how they operate
and get all
their information or whatever they need.
So they’re more
likely to lean toward them than they would just going
on a
particular website trying to see what’s happening. You know,
want to see what does this offer for Veterans, you know? May I? Something just popped
into my mind that I think may be relevant. Sorry, I’ll be
extremely brief. So everyone could speak. Something just
popped into my mind about that, that I think is relevant. I had
an experience recently someone reached out to me about a
program and how to get the word out to
people in skilled nursing facilities, skilled nursing
facilities, which is which is where I work. And this ties right back in, full
circle, to the human contact kindness thing. I think this is
really very important. It’s wonderful to have all that
information out there so that we can look at it. It’s wonderful,
to even have a Veteran organization speak to you, to be
the liaison, you know, get the word right back. Be a
representative and get the word back to our peeps so to speak.
Right? But my recommendation is, and this is what we’re going to
do with this particular individual, he has a wonderful
program that is, that is combining high school students
with the seniors, because both generations feel unheard, and
have so much to say, and they feel forgotten, and they feel
dismissed. And going into, actually go
outreach. And not saying if you’re here you’re not doing
outreach. You’re here. I mean, go to the Veterans themselves.
If, you know, Mohammed won’t go to the mountain —
won’t go to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.
Whatever that saying is.
So go, and they will come. There’s a human voice to
everything. We get lost, I think, in technology, and it’s
wonderful. It’s a double edged sword. It
overwhelms me at times, and I need it. I needed to get places
that, you know, we don’t have to know where we’re going. I don’t
get in a car. I map it. I used to teach mapping skills in the
Marine Corps to comissioned, and non amongst my other
responsibilities within my specialty. I want to know where I’m going,
what I’m going to get there, have plan B, C, D, E F. Because
it’s a dangerous world and nobody’s going to do it for me. If you want to get a job done
you do it yourself, right? So we need to go out to people
and reconnect with people, one on one. I think that’s what I’m,
that’s what I’m all about. I want to, that one on one speaks
volumes to me and yes, we do need technology to get the word
out. But all the technology in the
world won’t make up for that one on one connection that we don’t
have with peole. That’s what it comes down to. I think that is the perfect way
to end. We’re just after five o’clock. I would like to thank
all of you on the panel for being here. I think we can all
agree we learned a lot of valuable information. [applause] Surveys are coming around. If
you would, please… o surveys coming around?? There will be an email. Oh, they’re right here. There’s
some ready, so take a minute to complete those. And we also want
to let everyone know about CCAC’s first fundraiser there’s
brochures at the back, conquering fear with for
accessibility with us. Again details around the brochure on
the back table. It’s a May, May 7th. And the panel will be here
for just a couple minutes if anyone wanted to come up and
speak to them individually. Thank you all for being here.

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