HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Three generations of the Nash family coming together to reflect on a journey that started more than 70 years ago.
George Nash served in World War II. Grandson Justin Nash served in Afghanistan in 2003.
“When I see and when you read what he went through and the type of warfare there was, I don’t envy him one bit and what he went through. Compared to us in World War II as far as I’m concerned they had it much tougher,” said George Nash.
A Hamden native, Justin graduated from West Point in June 2001. He led 33 men in combat in Afghanistan before returning home. That’s when his battle with Post-traumatic stress disorder began.
“War is hell no matter what and its something that nobody should have to do. You know, but it does, it forges some things inside you that make you a different person. Sometimes a better person, sometimes worse but certainly a person that has experienced some things,” said Justin.
“I knew that he was different and I knew things had changed in my family with our relationship with our son,” said Justin’s mother Karen.
“When Justin came home from Afghanistan, Justin wasn’t Justin anymore,” added brother Corey.
As the Nash clan gathers for dinner on this October night, you wouldn’t know Justin was estranged from them for nearly three years. A family drive to support and succeed brought them back together.
“Grandpa it was the UI and construction. For me it’s work, family and Til Duty Is Done. My dad it’s every Saturday since I’ve known him he’s doing stuff, fixing one of our projects. So, um, that’s what we do. We work,” Justin said.
Now, they’re all helping Justin in his efforts with Til Duty Is Done, an organization he founded that helps veterans get their lives back on track.
“We sat in the basement at his house and he said ‘here’s what I want to do. I want to, I need a mission cause I’m a leader of men. This is my idea. I need your help,'” said Corey Nash.
Along with his brother Corey, Justin organized Vets Rock. Teaming up with Mohegan Sun, the event brings thousands of veterans together for an event like no other. A career fair, classes, workshops and a concert, all free to veteran’s. And all to help others overcome the challenges Justin himself struggled with for years.
“I’m seeing a lot of changes now in him about being happy about what he’s doing. I didn’t realize that he needed something so much,” said Karen Nash.
Til Duty Is Done and its mission is also helping the family grow closer on many levels. Married for almost seven decades, Marion knew little about her husband’s time overseas.
“It wasn’t anything that he would come out with and tell about his experiences. I was very surprised when he started telling me about Iwo. That was like the first time I heard about it when he was talking to Justin,” said Marion Nash.
“It’s given me a sense of being, understanding my father a lot better, feeling closer and feeling at peace,” said Mark Nash.
While their journey has not been an easy one, the hope is that the rewards are just beginning.
“To see it grow into this organization that’s now has this tremendous outreach, it’s overwhelming,” added Mark Nash.
For more information on Til Duty Is Done, click here.
News 8 is a proud sponsor of Vets Rock, a day dedicated to our veterans by providing valuable resources, along with world-class entertainment. Vets Rock is on November, 11th, Veterans Day, at Mohegan Sun. For details on the day-long event, click here.