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Program Spotlight: Family Services

Program Spotlight: Family Services

Written by Virginia R. Barnes

Our Upstate Warrior Solution (UWS) Family Services team would like to introduce our three new programs, facilitated by U.S. Army veterans. Continue reading to find out more information about each program.

Sole Sisters

The first, new program is Sole Sisters. It will be facilitated by Marti Thompson, a female, U.S. Army veteran, and hosted by myself, Virginia R. Barnes. Marti and I came up with the idea when we were hiking one day.

Of course, we were hiking at a local park enjoying Nature’s beauty when I exclaimed, “We should start a one-year training for those interested in hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail at the conclusion of training!” Marti was as enthusiastic as I was!

I asked, “What will we name this group?”  Marti, as if reading my mind, with a smile, said, “Sole Sisters!”  Yes!  A celebratory high-five sealed the deal like that of the old-fashioned gentleman’s handshake. Welcome, to Sole Sisters!

Sole Sisters is a 6-month training for the Appalachian Trail that will be facilitated by Marti and hosted by Virginia.  The training will start on Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 9 a.m. Training will take place on the first Saturday of each month. A flyer will be distributed each month that states the meet-up location and training hike destination. Sole Sisters will host an overnight practice hike on September 11, 2021 at Oconee State Park, and electricity will be provided. Then, the overnight hike we have been training for on the Appalachian Trail will take place on November 6, 2021.  The location and timeframe will be decided as a group. We were thinking of Grayson Highlands Park, located in Virginia.

If you would like to join Sole Sisters, please contact our UWS Family Services Advocate Virginia R. Barnes at 631-506-9669 or via email at

About Marti Thompson

Marti is a U.S. Army veteran of 8.5 years and now medically retired. During her time in the U.S. Army, she held the rank of Sergeant E-5. Five and a half of those years were spent active duty as the Engineer. She finished her time with the Army TDRL (Temporary Duty Retirement List).

Marti said, “I am an Avid Hiker. It was exciting to spend my 60th Birthday on the Appalachian Trail at Grayson Highlands Park, located in Virginia. Recently, my son and his wife have started hiking with me as time permits. I welcome spouses, caregivers of veterans, military, and first responders, and female veterans to join Sole Sisters, starting on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Please check out the flyer to learn more about Sole Sisters.”


UWS Family Services Bravo Explorers Family Hike

The second new program is a family hike, starting next month! It will be facilitated by Jeremy, an Army Veteran who served as a Sergeant E-5 from 2010 to 2016, and Leah Duckett, his wife and stay-at-home mom who also takes care of her grandmother. The UWS Family Services Advocate Virginia R. Barnes will host it. Jeremy and Leah have three children. Their schedule is hectic, but family time is a priority. As a family, they are moderate hikers, adventurers, and explorers. They look forward to leading the new UWS Family Services Program Family Hike once a month. They will alternate location hikes throughout the South Carolina Upstate. The Family Hike will take place on the second Saturday of each month.  The Family Hike will be a Pilot program for one year. The hikes will start at 10 a.m. End time is dependent on location. Children ages 5 and up are welcome.  Each parent is responsible for their own child. Restroom breaks will be taken as a group.  Welcome to the UWS Family Services Family Hike!

Cornerstone Heroes: BECOMING

The third new program is a division of Cornerstone Heroes. It will be facilitated by Sara McAvoy, a U.S. Army Veteran. We welcome all our spouses, partners, and caregivers of veterans, military, and first responders. Participants in BECOMING will find and develop their inner strength to create the future they desire with empowerment, development, and growth through BECOMING. This program is designed to meet the participants where they are. BECOMING will focus on a holistic approach to developing body, mind, soul, and role.  BECOMING is an interactive program. Participants will meet on the fourth Saturday of each month, starting February 27 through November 13, 2021.  The first meeting will be held at 3 Caledon Court, Suite A-2, Greenville, SC from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Refreshments will be provided for the first meeting. At the end of this pilot program, we will host a celebration.  Coming soon, Cornerstone Heroes: MOMENTUM.