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Building Bridges Between WNY Veterans Services

Veteran participants in Higher Ground & Odyssey Project (who are also musicians) will join the Buffalo Blues’ house band with Bob James (on right) as special guests on June 3 at the Cave.

With over $102,000 in donations raised for 18 WNY non-profits serving veterans and military families, Buffalo Blues is pushing for local services to discover ways to work together.

On Thursday, June 3 at the Cave at 6pm, the Odyssey Project and Higher Ground, NY will come together to raise critical funding, while sharing their stories pertaining to four program graduates.

The recent five year study on WNY veterans and military families revealed that there are more than 50 organizations in WNY whose mission statements include serving veterans. While this seems remarkable, collaborations among these services is rare. One reservist in his late 30’s said this about WNY veterans services:

The one word that best defines what I see is ‘splintered.’  It’s like everyone is working in their own sandbox, afraid to share… work together.

The Odyssey Project is a series of intensive photography workshops that invite veterans to use photography to explore and share their long journey home from war.

Higher Ground, a national adaptive sports program with a fast growing chapter in New York, uses outdoor education and leadership team challenges in a “whole-life healing’ model that also invites spouses to participate.

Participants in a recent Higher Ground program

The two programs were brought together by Marlene Roll, a participant in both, and a leader in the veterans community.

“Both programs invite veterans to re-engage with each other while mapping new opportunities to expand their participation in the world around them,” said Roll.

“We are excited by the synergies in the approaches of the Odyssey Project and Higher Ground, and look forward to delivering a new transformative opportunity to the veteran community,” said Odyssey Project founder Brendan Bannon – the Project was covered in a Buffalo Rising feature in 2019.

“Getting veterans programs to work together was a lofty goal in the early days of Buffalo Blues,” said Bob James, musician and social worker, and author of the five year study. “Seeing it actually happen tells me that other programs may be willing to be innovative, push the envelope, and grow in new ways.”

See Facebook event

To request the Five Year Study on WNY Veterans & Military Families (summary available), feel free to email

The Cave, owned and operated by the Hall family at Sportsmens Tavern, is located behind Sportsmens Tavern at 71 Military Road. Find The Cave on Facebook.

Lead image: Brendan Bannon with the Odyssey Project

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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