By Charlsy Panzino
The Middle Tennessee Chapter is using Community Outreach Grants from The MOAA Foundation to continue support for two programs they’ve been working with: Operation Stand Down Tennessee and the Alzheimer’s Association of Middle Tennessee.
“Veterans are a wonderful force, and we can do lots of good within the community. The grants allow us to do that,” said chapter President Lt. Col. Karon Uzzell-Baggett, USAF (Ret).
Operation Stand Down Tennessee connects veterans with careers, community, and crisis services, and the chapter has been working with the organization’s Operation Commissary program to address food needs.
“We help out with food assistance, especially with the rising price of inflation,” Uzzell-Baggett said. “It’s important that we give back to military families.”
Fort Campbell stretches into Tennessee from Kentucky, which brings many servicemembers and veterans to the middle Tennessee area.
“There’s a huge [veteran] retirement community where they can struggle to make ends meet,” Uzzell-Baggett said.
In November, the chapter will donate gift cards to the organization to be handed out during a food basket distribution event. The baskets will have nonperishables, but the gift cards can be used to purchase fresh proteins for families who have been prescreened, she said.
The chapter is also partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association of Middle Tennessee on an initiative aimed at caregiver education.
In 2022, the chapter partnered with the association to hold a symposium to discuss the prevalence of dementia in the veteran population. Feedback from attendees showed the importance of the symposium’s sections on caregivers, so the chapter decided to focus on the caregivers themselves for the next event.
In early 2024, the chapter is planning a weekend retreat for caregivers of military members with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that will focus on self-care and caregiver education.
“We hope to give them a weekend where they get to step away, kind of let their mind rest, get some information, but most of all, get some relaxation,” Uzzell-Baggett said.
Charlsy Panzino is a writer based in Idaho.