3,500 vets honored at Annual Appreciation BBQ

Reunion Ranch in Georgetown was the destination for more than 3,500 veterans and their families to enjoy some music, food and fun at the Heroes Night Out 5th annual Military Appreciation BBQ.

"It's a family time for them, it gives them a chance to be together, because you know they're active duty or whatever they get deployed so they don't get to do a lot of family things together," Judy Pierce, co-founder of Heroes Night Out, said.

"Wounded soldiers can't heal in the barracks, only bad things happen. So this is gives them a chance to be comfortable with their families, a family outing because the family serves too," Wes Pierce, Judy's husband and co-founder, said.

Vets and their families had free roam of the ranch to not only spend time with each other but with those that have endured similar struggles.

"I think when they come to events that heroes night out puts on, they meet other veterans also and they connect with them," Michelle Johnson, of Heroes Night Out, said.

"It's really great to be around veterans in general because it feels like being back in the military where you are in a safe zone." James Fosler, U.S. Marine Corps, said. "Where everybody's got the same mindset, everybody has the same discipline, and principles."

Fosler was a Marine for six years and feels events such as this helped save his life.

"I had goals in the military of doing certain things and being somebody and when you get out, all those dreams change, all  those goals change and they taught me, and showed me, there is life outside of the military when you get out and you can still achieve the things that you want," Fosler said.

What Fosler want's to do now is help share the true meaning of Memorial Day.

"For veterans like myself and the families of veterans who know the cost of freedom and who know what the sacrifices are, it's a lot more than that it's about us getting together and remembering we are all family and remembering the fallen."

Fosler is the lead singer and guitarist for the band "James Fosler and the Broke Down South." His band has performed at the BBQ every year and hopes he can help other veterans find their new-normal after leaving active service.