TULSA, Okla. (KJRH) — A Tulsa success story could soon spread state-wide.
The Coffee Bunker, near 41st and Sheridan, is helping veterans in a unique way. Now, a state bill is moving forward to create new centers modeled after it.
The Coffee Bunker started in the back room of a church in 2010 by the mother of a veteran who committed suicide. Since then, it has moved into it’s own facility, and really given veterans a place to hang out and feel like they belong.
The Coffee Bunker is more than just a place to drink a cup of joe.
“A relaxing place among the brotherhood.”
The organization has been up and running in Tulsa for a few years now. And it’s helped a lot of returning veterans, of all ages and branches, that now have a place to feel welcome. More importantly, they have a place to talk about their experiences, both fighting overseas, and returning home.
“Everything an active service member experiences is absolutely nothing like what my friends, my parents experience out here in the civilian world,” Gary Secor said.
Secor and his pal, Nala, come here often. He says it’s a place where he feels like he belongs.
Up to 50 local veterans stop by the bunker each day. Sometimes, they go to get help looking for jobs, other times, they just want to shoot the breeze and hang out with the boys.
Now, state legislators hope to use the hangout as a model for other centers across Oklahoma. A bill, if passed, will bring seven more centers just like the bunker– volunteer supported and veteran centered– to areas around the state.
Much like the rest of the country, veteran suicide is a problem in Oklahoma. And it’s a topic that’s often discussed at the Coffee Bunker.
Gary says sometimes its something as simple as a cup of coffee and a welcoming place to talk that can make someone feel more accepted and less alone.
“With that ability to surround yourself with other veterans who are able to associate and understand.”
Senate bill 713 says the centers would be facilitated by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and would depend on the availability of funds.
The bill is still in the appropriations committee.