Last Updated: Monday, May 16, 2016, 9:28 AM EDT
Jessica Helmes spends many, many hours online talking to veterans. They are her sisters and brothers.
- Army veteran formed Vet V.I.P. to bring fellow vets together
- Group provides friendship, direction to veterans
An U.S. Army veteran, Helmes has served two tours of duty in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and III.
After leaving the service, she searched for groups dedicated to young vets and found none. So, a year ago she created Vet V.I.P.
“Our group focuses on bringing people together and trying to redevelop the camaraderie that we lost once we exited the service,” Helmes said. Her group offers friendship, help and direction to vets.
One of the people she met was from Iowa.
Amanda Rickens, an Army veteran and mother of two young girls, is facing a far greater battle than her days stationed in Iraq: stage IV colon cancer.
“I couldn’t imagine being told that you might not have time to see your girls grow up,” Helmes said.
Rickens told Helmes of her desire to create positive and happy memories for her children.
With Helmes' help and other veteran organizations, Rickens and her girls made some of those positive memories with a trip in January to Disneyland.
For Rickens, who is visiting in Florida, Vet V.I.P. is many things.
“It means a lot. It’s more than just a veterans friendship,” Rickens said. “It’s actually quite deeper for me than that. I can come to her and talk about anything.”
Said Helmes: “We try to reach out to them and to provide them the support they need. Maybe they’re having a bad day, and they just need somebody to talk to and that’s what we do.”