Local Veteran Honored With Award For Community Work

He’s a husband, author and veteran – a man with many titles. Now, Wendell Affield is a Minnesota Humanities Center Veterans’ Voices Award Recipient. “I was very surprised,” said Affield. Affield received the honor on Monday because of his community service that goes beyond the military. He spent four years in the United States Navy and was wounded during an ambush in 1968. “It was maybe dealing with survivor’s guilt,” said Affield. “I found working with other people was kind of a form of redemption.” His book, Muddy Jungle Rivers, tells memory stories from time spent in Vietnam. It eventually led Affield to leading a Veteran’s Writer’s Group. Some of those veterans deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and writing helps. “Trauma memories are like a collage bouncing around in your head,” said Affield. “We can explore the inner story, the senses. What did it smell like? What do you remember tasting that day? What did you hear?” While volunteering at the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, Affield met a veteran and helped him earn his veteran benefits. In another instance, he helped a veteran’s widow earn benefits. Those are examples of how Affield answers his accidental calling. He wants to help trim a disconnect between civilians and veterans. “Reach out to those veterans organizations, and ask are there some resources we can offer?” said Affield. Patti, Affield’s wife of 40 years, couldn’t be more proud of her husband and his journey that started many years ago. “Always amazed and it’s going to be exciting to see what he does in the future,” said Patti. For Affield, this award reinforces and authenticates the work he’s done. I certainly wasn’t doing it for accolades or anything like that, caught me as a surprise,” said Affield. “I’m humbled to be recognized.” Any veteran interested in the Veteran Writing Group should contact Dr. Petersen at the Bemidji VA Clinic.