The work we do at the Brookfield Institute's Care for the Troops is becoming more vital every day.
There are still 20 veterans a day who commit suicide. And 70% of the veterans who take their lives have never contacted the VA for health services.
That is why our outreach and education work is so important.
Veterans who are struggling and isolated will sometimes reach out to a pastor or neighbor. Our training prepares the community so they can offer effective help. About 400 clergy and community members have been trained to understand the issues veterans and their families face, to be aware of the available resources and to know how to reach out and support veterans.
This past year, we have been active in so many ways. Our year-long survey of local veterans' needs gave us a lot to work with.
- We are planning to open a Drop-In Center in 2018 in sparsely served central Quaboag Valley. We will provide a place to gather, get information and to meet other veterans and active-duty military families.
- In April, we sponsored a Vietnam Veterans Recognition Dinner with over 200 attendees. We awarded 80 veterans a 50th anniversary commemoration pin. As the pins were presented, each veteran was told, "Welcome home and thank you for your service." Several Vietnam veterans replied, "No one has ever said that to me before."
- We continue to offer this recognition to Vietnam veterans, bringing healing to deserving veterans who didn't get thanked properly many years ago.
- Our Veteran's Storytelling Project is active. We have listened to and recorded the stories of six veterans. Several will be submitted to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
- This coming year, we will train more volunteers to listen to and to record veterans' stories.
- We will also continue to train community members and clergy to help veterans and their families with trauma healing and resiliency.
- We are also producing a play, "Welcome Home" based on four stories from local veterans. The original play will have its debut in 2018.
Thank you, as always, for the countless ways you support the members of our Armed Forces and their families. During this giving season, please help us to achieve our mission to provide outreach and education for veterans, active-duty military and their families, so that we can stand with them as they reshape the experience of war into an experience of resilience and positive growth. We want all our military families to THRIVE after their time of service.