- Funding: Funding has been next to impossible to come by. Despite a well-crafted message and strong interest from the community, no one was willing to fund unproven programs to empower veterans or help educate employers, universities, and the general public. I'm not independently wealthy. The lack of funding absolutely killed us. We couldn't ever get any programs off the ground.
- Personal Needs: My personal struggle over the last two years is pretty well documented in the blog. With the divorce and being a dad, I no longer have anyone else to share the financial burden with or the time with our daughter. When I have my daughter, she is my primary focus. It means that two weeks out of the month, time is at a substantial premium. Also, I had to devote much more time to my day job in order to keep a roof over our heads. Leading the non-profit became a job I couldn't sustain and a time and resource drain I couldn't afford. Something had to give.
- Fragmented Support Helps No One: While we were never able to get our programs off the ground, other non-profits became very well-established in this space - especially in entrepreneurship and PTSD awareness. What I realized is that I could continue to struggle and squander what little I could raise, or I could join forces with more established groups. Our community of support is so fragmented that many people don't give because they can't figure out where their money would do the most good. If we want to help the most people, we need to start thinking about consolidating local non-profits into larger more impactful entities. I fully intend to lend my talents to support some of them in their cause and be a voice for our community.
- Getting Back to Basics: The past few years have been a serious challenge for me. While I've managed to cope fairly well, my PTSD has 'mutated' - I'll come back to this in a later post. What's important to take away from this is that I sorely needed to get back to basics. Blogging about my struggles is how this all started. Promoting awareness is my major mission. By closing down the non-profit, I don't have to shoulder the burden and unbelievable stress of fundraising, administration, finances...all while still trying to find time to blog and still having time to decompress after a long day. Now I can get back to what has made the most difference in my life and my ability to cope. Engaging with the community and sharing my experiences.
- Lending my Talents to Established Programs: You all know that I firmly believe that entrepreneurship is a hugely viable employment alternative for veterans struggling with PTSD - it's been a revelation for me. I doubt I'd be employed right now if it wasn't for the opportunity I have to start a company from the ground up. I plan on lending my talents to two organizations. Patriot Boot Camp (I'm an Alum) and Bunker Labs in Philadelphia. Both are providing invaluable education and great programs to help accelerate the success of veterans owned startups. The only thing missing is PTSD education and how they can help struggling veterans and service members find meaning and a sense of belonging as they transition. I want to help them keep sight of that part of the mission.
- Promoting Awareness via the 'Weeping Soldier': This one is deeply personal to me. When I commissioned a graphic artist to create our logo, I never imagined it would turn out how it did. The symbol of the weeping soldier is iconic and is recognized across the country. What I realized is that we're not doing enough to leverage its power. Until now, there has never been a singular image that speaks to the invisible wounds of war, how too many suffer in silence, and how too many lose the battle. I challenge everyone to use this image and promote awareness. Put it on your social media profiles in solidarity. I'm releasing our logo and the weeping soldier into the creative commons and encourage other organizations to use this image as a unifying presence - to show we're all in this fight together.
- I am challenging the IAVA, Got Your SIx, the VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, the Department of Veterans Affairs, First Family and anyone else who wishes to join me in spreading this message. Please share this blog post far and wide. Help us spread the word...
Thank you all for your continued support. I'm getting back to basics and adding my voice to the choir once again.
Yours in Health,
This image is visceral and evokes a strong emotional response in all that see it. We need a unifying symbol to represent all of us that suffer in silence from the invisible wounds of war. Use this to raise awareness. Put it on your Facebook Pages - humanize the struggle. Make it Personal. Let this be our clarion call.