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Carrboro encourages residents to honor local veterans through Operation Green Light


The flags and sign near Carrboro Town Hall are pictured on Friday, Sep. 15, 2023.

The Town of Carrboro — following a resolution passed by the town council on Oct. 24 — will join communities across the country by participating in Operation Green Light, an initiative to honor the sacrifices of veterans.

From Nov. 6-12, the Town will display green lights on Carrboro Town Hall and encourage residents to do the same in the windows of their homes or businesses.

Town council member and mayoral candidate Barbara Foushee, who introduced the resolution, said the initiative is very personal for her because her late father served in the Navy and her late brother-in-law, an army veteran, died last year around the time the resolution was brought forward.

She said the resolution's primary purpose is to shed light on veterans and the struggles they face, including mental illness, physical ailments and difficulties obtaining housing and healthcare.

John Brooker, the director of the Military and Veterans Law Clinic at the UNC School of Law, served in the Army for 20 years. He said that upon transitioning out of the military, many veterans struggle to access the services available to them.

“I've actually gone through the process myself of transitioning out of the military into the civilian workspace, or the civilian sphere," he said. "One of the big challenges veterans face in accessing service and benefits is simply knowing which services and benefits are available.”

Brooker, also a professor at UNC School of Law, said when a service member is actively in the military, services are automatically provided. When they finish their service though, veterans do not always know what services are available to them and it can be difficult to file a claim for those services.

According to Brooker, many veteran benefits are served by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA. The VA provides services such as mental and physical healthcare, disability compensation and housing programs, he said.

Rob Palermo, the program director of the Carolina Veterans Resource Center, said transitioning from an institution like the military into the civilian world is a big cultural shift for many.

Palermo said it can also be difficult for veterans to receive services they need because they have been taught to be self-sufficient — a phenomenon Noah Raftogianis, the president of UNC’s Veterans Advocacy Legal Organization, said he has seen when trying to provide pro bono legal services to veterans.

“They're oftentimes the last people to ask for help," Raftogianis said. "And that can be a real obstacle in providing pro bono assistance, and providing aid they need. So that's one thing, and as part of knowing what's available, I think there's a reluctance to go seek out help."

Brooker said initiatives like Operation Green Light are important to local veterans because it makes them feel welcomed in communities away from military bases. 

“It makes them feel appreciated, and it may seem like a really small thing — and it is a really small thing, but really small things add up," Brooker said.

@DTHCityState |

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