The retired teachers of the Greater Bridgeport area (GBRTA), welcomed retired Staff Sergeant Juliet Taylor as guest speaker at their recent annual veterans celebration luncheon at Testo’s Restaurant in Bridgeport.

Taylor spoke about how teachers had influenced her life and what the retired teachers can do to help veterans. She said, “It is our job as a community to help vets readjust to society.”

Taylor detailed some of her own difficulties in readjusting to civilian life after each of her four deployments to Iraq. She said, “Everything in the military is done for you. You are given a place to live and food to eat. All your utilities are paid. Everything is taken care of. For almost 15 years I didn’t have to pay for living expenses.”

Understanding these difficulties in adjusting helps Taylor explain why 7,300 service members take their own lives every day. She said, “We are prepared to fight and win, but we are not prepared to fight for survival back home.”

Serving as Grand Marshal of the Trumbull Memorial Day parade in April of 2019, Taylor recalled her fight to survive and her Trumbull connection when she worked as a teacher’s aide at Hillcrest Middle School in 1995 to support her three children. Improving their lives was the main reason why she enlisted in the first place.

Medically discharged in 2014 after her Humvee hit a road mine in Iraq, Taylor now advocates for veterans through Collaborative Exchange Veteran Services, an organization which assists veterans in their transition back to civilian society. A graduate of UCONN EBV program, the Army Basic Non-commissioned Officer courses, Army Warriors Leader course, and Army Suicide Prevention, Taylor is currently pursuing a further degree in Public Health in the Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of Bridgeport.

She said, “Connecticut is the number one state for veteran care. We have a lot of great support here, but we still need your help and your time and sometimes your money. Find a way to tutor, send cards to the hospitals, prepare holiday baskets. These small acts can enrich the lives of veterans.”

The GBRTA monetary honorarium for guest speaker will be donated in Juliet Taylor’s name to Operation Gift Card, an organization that assists service personnel who are returning from active duty. To date Operation Gift Cards has delivered more than $1,000,000 worth of gift cards and corporate donations to the wounded troops and their families at the Walter Reed National Military Hospital.