Molly Brooks’ passion is to help those those who have more yesterdays than tomorrows.
Molly Brooks was born at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and spent her formative years growing up on military bases. She has chosen to pair her personal experiences, her gerontology education, and most importantly her desire to assist the elderly with a nonprofit organization serving veterans age 65 and older.
Her childhood was all about the military. “My father was a 23 year veteran of the Marine Corps. Shopping at the commissary and PX were regular occurrences,” said Brooks. “I was 19 years old before I ever went to a civilian doctor or dentist.”
Her father’s service prepared her and educated her on the unique needs of veterans, yet she learned even more as an adult. Brooks shared, “I met my husband (US Army veteran) at Fort Leonard Wood, a large Army base in Missouri. He served for five years in the Military Police Corps. He continued his law enforcement in the US Marshals Service and credits his time in the Army as the foundation for everything.”
Brooks has dedicated herself to service, albeit not the military type. She is a nurse, specializing in gerontology and hospice and palliative care. “My life’s work is with the elderly. I found a surprising percentage of the people I helped to be veterans who experience adverse effects from their time in service,” she said.
From her personal and professional exposure to older veterans, Brooks found a specialized need for these heroes. “Through my work I found veterans have a shared experience that crossed generations, war periods, and branches of service. Many times that experience was positive — but not always,” said Brooks. “The induction process into the military teaches them to never admit defeat, not to fall behind, and not to ask for help. This serves them very well in battle, but not well when they are older and actually do need help.”
“My father served two tours in Vietnam so I have the very personal experience of watching him age. Her father’s sacrifices and years of service to the nation allowed her to understand what military life is like for individuals and family members. During his time in Vietnam, Raymond was exposed to Agent Orange. “He passed in 2010 from complications of Agent Orange exposure which is unfortunately common in our Vietnam veterans,” said Brooks.
She also said, “Veterans are at a higher risk to suffer a multitude of illnesses due to their time in service (see infographic). They also suffer a higher rate of PTSD, depression, and fractured family relationships — especially our Vietnam veterans.”
She also noted many of these issues manifest themselves as the veteran ages, not when they are younger. “Approximately half of our veterans in America are over the age of 65 and their needs are very different than the needs of our younger veterans,” shared Molly.
“It brings me great fulfillment to blend that experience with my gerontology background to create this organization which brings help to aging veterans in the areas they most need it,” she said.
Brooks hopes to inspire everyone to seek out aging veterans and helps them — a neighbor, a church member, or even a family member. “People will not have to look far to find a veteran that needs a friend, something Hero’s Bridge calls a Battle Buddy. If individuals cannot help directly, I would love to invite them to join this movement by donating or supporting Hero’s Bridge in other ways.”
“My mission in life, from a very young age, has been to help the sick and frail, the elderly, and those who have more yesterdays than tomorrows,” Brooks said. “It brings me great satisfaction to lead and engage our community in that mission, especially for those who fought for the way of life we enjoy.”
For more information on Hero’s Bridge, its mission and ways you may become involved, please visit the Programs page of their website. If individuals wish to help but have not time to volunteer, they may support older heroes, they may do so by donating monthly through the Help A Hero initiative.