A few months ago, Oak Harbor Police Officer Mike Brown responded with other officers to an unattended suicide.
The man left behind a very personal note, explaining that he had served his country in the military but felt lonely and abandoned. He thought there was no point in going on.
The heartbreaking experience spurred Brown and his colleagues to make a special effort to reach out to veterans in the community and let them know that officers are there for them. Brown, a former Army airborne ranger, said law enforcement officers tend to have a special appreciation for veterans.
“As police officers, we know how valuable community support can be,” he said.
“We are more than happy, more than willing to provide any kind of help we can,” he added.
Brown approached Chief Kevin Dresker with the idea of holding a barbecue for veterans as a way to express officers’ appreciation for them while also making connections. Dresker said the idea fit perfectly with the department’s focus of community engagement, but organizers decided it made the most sense for the police officers’ association to host it. Other law enforcement agencies will also participate.
The “law enforcement serving veterans” event will be 12-2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Oak Harbor Home Depot.
The Home Depot and other businesses have been generous in supporting the event, the men said. The food will be by Orlando’s.
While the inspiration was somber, the barbecue is planned as a fun event at which veterans can feast and mingle.
“The message is, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Dresker said. “‘We care about you as a department. We care about you as a community.”