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St. Charles Co. Veterans Museum aims to preserve history, tell veterans' stories

"What we didn't quite expect, that this has become a place of healing and therapeutic for some veterans"

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — After two decades, America's longest war is officially over, but many veterans and soldiers will be affected for the rest of their lives.

In O'Fallon, Missouri, the St. Charles County Veterans Museum aims to preserve the hard work and dedication contributed by our veterans. 

"We're about the veterans that wore the uniforms, we tell their stories," Operations Manager Jim Higgins said. "We've got over 320 veteran stories at the museum at this point. Most recently, St. Charles County lost one of their own in Jared."

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz from Wentzville is the latest member to join their Wall of Honor, it features the names 115 killed in action from World War I to today.

He died last week in the attack at Kabul's airport.

RELATED: Marine from Wentzville among those killed in Afghanistan

Credit: KSDK

"We are about to add one more dog tag for Jared very soon," Higgins said.

Soon, they'll share his story like the others in here, those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"What we didn't quite expect, that this has become a place of healing and therapeutic for some veterans," he adds.

He said many may be feeling a lot of feelings on Tuesday, with the U.S. ending its longest war. Yet, the emotions that come with it, continue.

Higgins said this is a hard time for the veterans who served in Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Both had the same feeling of a war ending. 

"This is flashback to Vietnam when they left and many had a lot of feelings come back. It’s important to remember that no one wants to feel on what they did was of no value," Higgins adds. 

Chris Schulte has served in the Army for 17 years.

Credit: Chris Schulte

"In reality, yeah the war might technically be over but it's going to continue to rage on not even emotionally, but overseas," he said. "I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of mixed emotions. I'm sure there's a lot of people that feel like what they did was a total waste. That's not it though. It gave everyone a purpose. We kept the Taliban away for 20 plus years."

Schulte wants to remind his other brothers and sisters in arms their work mattered.

"When they come home or when something ends, they lose their sense of purpose and it can be dangerous," he said. 

He said suicide awareness should be the top priority for our soldiers and veterans.

If you're a veteran in need of help, the Veterans Crisis Hotline is there for you at 1-800-273-8255.

If any veterans are feeling a sense of loss, also remember, there are places like the St. Charles County Veterans Museum to remind you, your story is never forgotten.

"We feel strongly that no one is ever gone as long as someone has memories of them, our job, in a nutshell, is to preserve the memories of those that have been lost," Higgins said. 

If you'd like to donate any items to the museum, they said they'd love to learn the veteran's story. 

If you'd like to contribute with monetary donations, click here.