Helping veterans brings great joy to Dave Silver and the volunteers at Operation Yellow Ribbon. The non-profit organization was created to send care packages to veterans overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.
Silver and Operation Yellow Ribbon have also held welcome back surprise events to show their appreciation to soldiers who have served America. They have partnered with various patriotic organizations, including the Warriors Watch Riders, to welcome heroes back in true rock star fashion.
The organizations continued their missions Monday, when they welcomed home Cinnaminson native and United States Army veteran Anthony Andrews and his K-9 partner, Andy.
“It was one of the best feelings to finally get to meet him and his K-9 partner Andy,” said Silver. “During the dinner, I had time to learn about him and to understand what he was involved with.
“He had experienced so much that he could write a book. Also, the dog was so energetic. It either wanted to work or play. It was really a great experience.”
Silver first became acquainted with Andrews a few years ago when the veteran and Andy became recipients of the Operation Yellow Ribbon care packages. While deployed between 2015 to 2016, Andrews and Andy worked together to support other units on their base by locating explosives and assisting with route clearances.
According to Silver, when Andrews originally came back from deployment, Operation Yellow Ribbon and the Warriors Watch had planned a welcome home surprise that had to be cancelled. Andrews would soon be transferred to Arizona, although three years later, Silver was finally able to give Andrews the welcome he deserved.
“We really do it for them,” said Silver of the veterans served. “We may be too young to remember, but generations ago when they came back from Vietnam, people would spit on them and call them names when they came home. We try to use all the resources we can when our veterans come back so that they are never treated like that again.”
“We send care packages as a way to show support to our soldiers and to let them know that they’re not forgotten,” he added. “We take things for granted here because if we need something, we can just go to the store and get it. But sometimes our soldiers are in situations where they can’t even take a shower or access something as simple as toothpaste.
“We do whatever we can for the military personnel, but it’s not enough. We just hope that they all come home.”
After five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the 12-year old K-9 retired in March. Andrews is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in early 2020 and be in charge of K-9s there.
For more information about Operation Yellow Ribbon, or to get involved, visit OperationYellowRibbon.org.