Brianna Forbes had some help in spreading her message of gratitude during the Cherry Creek School District's Veterans Week celebration.
Forbes, a 17-year-old senior in the district's I-Team program, crafted a heartfelt and personalized message bound for the group of veterans living at the Veterans Community Living Center located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. In a set of "Thank You" cards distributed to the residents, Forbes wrote frankly about her feelings and her own family experiences tied to military service.
"Thank you for all you have done for me and my family for us to be able to call this country our home," Forbes wrote. "(We) have such brave men and women representing us."
Forbes wasn't on hand to deliver the message in person, but she had support from a dedicated group of her fellow CCSD students. On Nov. 8, a group from the district's Transition Program delivered letters and care packages to residents in the building. The district's Transition Program is an optional program for young adults with special needs who are 18 to 21 years old and who have completed their high school core classes – the program offers a diverse array of professional and educational opportunities.
This Transitions group delivered the cards room-by-room; they stopped veterans in the hallways to hand off the cards and pose for photos. The Transition students, some of whom had difficulty communicating directly, found a way to express themselves through Forbes' words.
The message came from a deeply personal place for Forbes, who's faced her own significant hurdles over the past year. She's been recovering from major injuries sustained in a car accident, working to rebuild her physical health even as she's kept up with her education (she's set to graduate later this year).
When the chance came up to pen the card destined for the residents of the Veterans Community Living Center, Forbes drew on familial connections and deep-set feelings of personal duty.
"I have a grandfather who served in the Vietnam War and I know how it feels to not feel thanked, to feel like people don't care that you risked your life," Forbes said. "A lot of young people don't know what Veterans Day is; they don't really respect the fact that there are soldiers who fought for us."
Forbes said she's aware of the sacrifices of the untold multitude who've served in the U.S. military, and the card was a way of providing her own personal note of gratitude. That kind of perspective – staying aware of the larger pictures and the contributions of those who too often go uncelebrated – has helped Forbes move forward during a difficult time.
Empathy has been a key motivator for Forbes throughout her own personal struggles, and it was the overarching tone of the card that went to dozens of residents at the Veterans Community Living Center on Nov. 9.
"Even though you may not know why we're fighting, I feel like it's still important to show them that we acknowledge what they've done," Forbes said. "Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if you were out there putting your life on the line for people you don't even know and nobody said 'Thank You' for it or showed their appreciation?"