I have a wonderful guest today, Michelle Benavidez. Michelle is not a writer, but she is an inspiration. She and her family walked from Colorado to Illinois for awareness and support of families who, like herself, lost loved ones in our nation’s wars. I met Michelle while working at Golden’s VFW and I was in awe at her and her family’s determination to see this walk through. I became friends with her on Facebook and followed the progress of the walk.
Michelle and her husband, Dan lost their Son, Kenneth in one of our Middle East wars. Their pride and enthusiasm about their son struck me, and I witnessed how strong love and devotion can be. Thank you for being a guest on my blog and I hope that my followers make you feel welcome. You deserve gratitude for what you did, my hat’s off to you and your family.
1. Tell me about your walk? How do you feel after walking 1100 miles? I feel like I accomplished something bigger than ourselves and something big for our son, Kenneth. The walk was fantastic and we met a lot of supportive and amazing people along the way. People that heard about us waited for us to pass by and brought us drinks. There were VFW’s along the way that had dinners for us and even little parades and people walking a few miles with us. I was touched by their appreciation for what we were doing. As far as how I feel, well I’ve been back over a month and my feet just stopped hurting recently. It was so worth it though.
2. What got you started in this supportive endeavor? My husband Dan was the one who suggested we walk to the new memorial that Kenny’s name would be placed on in Marseilles, Ill. The Middle East conflict wall. I told him he was frikin’ crazy! Then I thought about it for a minute and asked him if he could get that much time off work. Well, he did and the next thing I know I’m walking to Illinois.
3. Tell us about Kenneth. He was in the military for 11 years, first in the 101st infantry for 9 years and then switched to the 4th infantry division, so he could relocate to Colorado. He loved the military, but he missed home. He loved to ski, fish, and he loved his family, probably in that order. He had been a troubled teen and made some bad choices. The Army helped him to become a wonderful and skillful young man. He was always an adrenaline junky, skiing, jumping out of planes or helicopters, ect.. He knew he wasn’t coming back after he was deployed again. He spent a lot of extra time with the people he loved before he left and asked me to honor him because he was willing to die for his country. He didn’t want us to dishonor his name by crying out about the war, but instead holding our head high.
4. Tell us about the organization you represent, American Military Family? AMF has been around for 9 years and is a non-profit org. Debbie Quackenbush is the founder. She founded it because of her brother, who did return bodily from Vietnam, but never emotionally or physically. She never got over the way the Vietnam Vets were treated by this country when they came home. Their services provide emergency relief for combat Vets. That involves re-integration, retreats, mental health and referrals. If anyone would like to contribute you can go to www.amf100.org. It’s a wonderful and supportive group and our Vets deserve to have a place to go to for whatever help they need to get back into their life here after being at war.
5. Is there anything new coming up to honor and raise funds for AMF? We have a poker run every summer and every spring we have a casino night. Next summer we will include a golf tournament also.
6. What is your favorite thing to do? Travel is my passion! I love meeting new people and seeing new places. I even love trying out different foods.
7. Where’s your next trip then? Vegas for my son Danny’s 21st birthday. He turned 21 on our walk to Ill.
8. So what’s ahead for you now? My new position which came from being involved with volunteering at AMF. I am now working with combat Vets by learning to write grants and help fund those who are uninsured or underinsured so they can get the treatment they need.
Thanks so much for allowing me this opportunity to interview you Michelle! I have enjoyed getting to know you better and appreciate all that you do to help our Vets. I hope one day we can get together and have coffee again, I would love to see what’s new in your world and of course, talk books again.
There will be a drawing from posted comments. The winner will receive a AMF T-shirt and a military pen for your vest or hat, whichever you prefer. Please leave Michelle a comment or question and I hope that there are some of you who decide to contribute to this wonderful organization!
Until next time, I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend! Lisa