marketing & community liaison rim country health

Shortly after Rim Country Health gained status as a long-term care facility for service-connected veterans, a steering committee was created with local veterans for RCH to gain their input into creating “veterans events” RCH should hold. Proposed events and programs included resources available, news updates, benefits/claims, and more, that would be beneficial to the community.

Wayne Kirby, Rim Country resident and Honor Flight Representative for Arizona, was an eager “yes” to be part of this committee. Kirby is very involved when it comes to our veterans. He is a retired Air Force Medic, serving during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm, retired history teacher, patriot and always willing to share his experiences and give thanks to veterans.

Last year at one of the steering committee meetings, he shared an invitation that he received from a collaboration of three Phoenix/Scottsdale High Schools for his inclusion in the Veterans Heritage Program. Kirby accepted the invitation and participated in what’s known as Since You Asked.™

Since You Asked™ began as a question and answer session when a teacher invited veterans into her classroom. The visit evolved into an after-school oral history publishing club in 2004, and that grew into a non-profit able to serve additional schools in 2010.

Kirby was matched with a student and sat down to share his military experiences. He brought the hardbound book to a steering committee meeting for us to see and read through. Beaming with pride he said, “This is one of the best things I’ve been a part of.”

Well, one thing led to another… and, we were all in agreement that Payson would be the perfect town to also participate in the Since You Asked™ (or Veterans Heritage Project).

Fast forward, Kirby met with Jeff Simon, principal, and Coach White at Payson High School in May 2019 to discuss the details of the project. I was lucky enough to accompany Kirby to this meeting. He shared his experience and gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in such a project. There was a unanimous “yes” from Payson High School leaders that they, too, would be proud to start a publishing chapter in Payson.

Training, volunteers (teachers, students, veterans) and donations will be needed to launch this very personal and meaningful partnership in our community.

The first steps have been taken for organizing the chapter. The next big step will be recruiting students and veterans.

The gift of receiving an account of a veteran’s time serving our country is priceless. You can’t get this in the history books. Join us in creating our local history book, Since You Asked.™ This book will be archived in the Library of Congress and will also be available for purchase. To date, the nation-wide project has created 1,824 veteran stories written by 1,779 students.

Join us in providing Rim Country veterans the opportunity to be part of an Arizona state publication that will include their military experiences.

Coach White anticipates a minimum of 10 students, and hopefully more, will initially be involved in the program.

As part of the first steps to recruit veterans, Kirby will be contacting the Payson American Legion, VFW and other local organizations to provide information about this outstanding program to preserve veterans’ oral history.

Get involved today and call Wayne Kirby at 480-266-9358. He will ask for your name, branch served in, event served in or service time frame. Veterans’ interviews will be conducted this fall.

Contact the reporter 

tmcquerrey@payson.com

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