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HH HOMEGROWN HEROES

Mentality THE COFFEE BUNKER PROVIDES A LIGHT OF HOPE TO VETERANS AND SERVICE MEMBERS IN A WORLD WHERE SADLY, MEN AND WOMEN OF SUCH GREAT COURAGE AND SACRIFICIAL SPIRIT ARE OFTEN OVERLOOKED AND FORGOTTEN. BY Rob Harmon PHOTOS BY Marc Rains Miguel de Cervantes once wrote, “The phoenix hope, can wing her way through the desert skies, and still defying fortune’s spite; revive from ashes and rise.” Like the fabled phoenix, Tulsa’s Coffee Bunker has risen from tragedy to become the region’s only peer-run, drop-in center for service members and veterans. The facility provides a friendly, alcohol- and drug-free environment where veterans receive support opportunities for successful reintegration with their families and the community. The Coffee Bunker is a place to get together to share stories, access Wi-Fi and the internet for job hunts, enjoy games and group activities, or just to hang out and watch TV or DVDs. In one corner of the center’s welcome lobby sits what is called “the sacred table,” with a framed picture behind it that represents the Coffee Bunker’s beginning.

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Tulsa’s own Corporal Daniel Ligon of the United States Marine Corps, after honorably serving two exhausting deployments in Iraq, came home. But the pain and trauma of war had taken a terrible toll. Feeling isolated, depressed and increasingly hopeless, he took his life June 10, 2007. Mary Ligon, Cpl. Ligon’s mother, founded the Coffee Bunker in 2010 in response to this traumatic event. Since then, it has become a place where veterans find strength, camaraderie and additional resources for overcoming the same struggles Daniel Ligon suffered from. Studies revealed through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have shown that from 2001-14, suicide among veteran men has increased in greater rates than those of the same age among civilians. Dr. Michael Horton, executive director of the Coffee Bunker

since 2016, says veterans in the Tulsa area and the surrounding region rely on the center for direction that otherwise is not available. More than a place where a veteran can get a free cup of coffee and hang out, the Coffee Bunker is helping veterans transition successfully back into civilian life. As a

“The collaborate efforts made with our veterans [via the Coffee Bunker] is really the highlight of who we are. A vet might come in here and is really struggling with employment. It’s affecting his mental health, his family, that kind of thing,” Horton says. “Veterans can get lost. They lose their paddles and can’t row

“WITH US, VERY RARELY WILL A VET STRUGGLE WHEN THEY’RE SURROUNDED BY THE RIGHT PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP THEM GET BACK ON TRACK.” nonprofit, they take advantage of major grants and other donations that help the facility train veterans to help other veterans get their civilian life back after sacrificing so greatly for their country.

anymore. All of a sudden, those feelings of hopelessness and helplessness come. With us, very rarely will a vet struggle when they’re surrounded by the right people who can help them get back on track.”

Profile for Preview 918

January 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 1)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 For 32 years, Preview 918 has been the best resource for disc...

January 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 1)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 For 32 years, Preview 918 has been the best resource for disc...