FOX47 NEWS - Baseball For Veterans

Jeff Angileri
Jul 12, 2009, 6:04 PM

More than 250 current and former soldiers and their families filled the Duck Pond Sunday at Warner Park

There, the Madison Mallards helped welcome back Wisconsin's newest veterans -- those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The day was not just about taking in a ball game, but helping veterans get used to being back home, and letting them know there are people who care.

Middleton army veteran Patrick Moore got to throw out the first pitch -- a little nerve racking, he says, but a far cry from a hostile environment like Iraq.

I was just driving down the street one day and got blown up, he explained. An [improvised explosive device] took my right leg off.

And it is not just the physical scars, but emotional hardships, too, that can make coming home a challenge.

Just distance from their family, distance from the community, getting back into the job market is a difficult thing, getting back into the education system, said Kenneth Black, with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

Black says 3,300 Wisconsin troops are serving in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Most of them will face some type of hardship returning home.

The Davis family of Lodi knows that all too well. Husband Jeff and wife Karen are both veterans. They've never been deployed at the same time, but say it takes a strong family and community bond to make life work.

The dedication they have for their country, from their home state, it's really a huge sacrifice for the individual and their family, said Jeff. It's quite a challenge, but the military really helps us out a lot.

And when it comes down to it, they say they are downright honored to make that sacrifice.

Said Karen, Just knowing what your purpose is -- I'm pretty proud to be over there.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is encouraging veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm to come forward and offer support.

They say no one is better equipped to help these young men and women acclimate back into society, than someone who's done it before.

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