For nearly two decades, I've watched as friends and family have given into the tempting escape of suicide only to leave the rest of us holding the bag and wondering why. I wrote a blog once about carrying the weight that is given to you, and I feel strongly that this weight is mine to carry. I will carry it because I have been there. I've had the gun to my head and I've seen the dark and ugly world of substance abuse. Most importantly, I know that the self destructive and self deprecating behaviors that accompany PTSD and substance abuse are limiting beliefs that are nothing short of bull crap.
I have had the privilege of being a confidant, and a mentor to many of you over the years and I thank you all for that honor, but it's time to do something about it. We've all heard the story about the guy in the foxhole. Well this is me jumping in with you. Let's start something beautiful.
I've been bouncing around the idea of a non-profit organization for several years now and with some very real and personal reasons, my wife and I have decided that we need to go ahead with this.
The idea that we have can best be described as a halfway house for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and substance abuse. For starters, and without wasting time, I can explain what the program will consist of as well as what it will not entail.
This will NOT be a place to get clean and sober. This will be a place to learn and practice techniques and habits that have been taught elsewhere. With that said, this will be a place to continue that journey and reinforce those new habits and the environment will be alcohol free.
I like to think of it as a place to come after inpatient treatment at one of the many programs that the VA offers, but without the overwhelming restrictions that come with it.
The money raised will go towards establishing non-profit status as well as consulting with attorneys and other agencies to keep everything on an even keel. Before we run our first group, my wife and I will attend several resilience and meditation workshops to attain a level of mastery consistent with our goals.
Our vision for this will look like this.
A veteran that has spent time at a recovery center will spend 3 weeks with us in Oregon. The veteran will learn coping skills and meditation techniques taught by certified instructors as well as receive a personalized physical training program that will aid and enhance their mental agility. We will conduct a number of outdoor activities based on the time of year that will follow a progressive trend in level of difficulty. Depending on the time of year, we might be hiking the Rogue River Trail, rafting on the North Umpqua River or snow shoeing the rim of Crater Lake. We will also offer opportunities to learn gardening and hunting, depending on the time of year, as well as art and nature therapy. I will also be exploring the option of bringing one or two active duty members along as well.
We want to teach them life skills that they will have ample time to practice while also giving them an experience that they will never forget. Teaching someone to meditate is one thing but having them practice this while sitting under the stars with the beauty of Crater Lake before them might have a much more profound impact on them. Waking up in the morning with an established routine will be even more concrete when they are waking up in a snow cave on Mount Ashland or a tent in the bottom of Mule Creek Canyon after a 3 day rafting trip.
We would like to provide this program 4 times a year with enough space for 3 participants. If a previous attendee wishes to come back and assist as well as mentor new comers, we would like to offer that option as well. For the first few years we will offer this just twice a year in order for my wife and I to finish our degrees in outdoor adventure leadership. This will also allow time to develop the property and build the infrastructure needed as well as relationships with outside agencies that will assist in training.
I have several people interested in getting this off the ground that will assist with curriculum, logistics, and training, and I have one individual that is willing to fly me out to meet him to discuss funding. The infrastructure, to include prerequisite training and certifications might cost as much as $150,000 but once that is in place we will be able to operate this entire program for around $75,000 a year which will be raised through other fundraising programs.
The more that we can raise through this platform will show investors that we are serious and capable which will help us attain the funding that we need. Thank you all for your help and for reaching out to us time and time again. Losing Kevin was one of the hardest and most trying moments of my life and there will never be another like him, in his memory we can make a difference.
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