When the brave men and women of our Armed Forces take the oath to defend our freedoms, they are committing their minds and body to protect our nation at all costs. For over 75% of service members and veterans serving post-9/11, the effects of war and service have led to PTSD. Understanding this impact on our military community and their families, HOPE works each and every day to provide resources, programs, and services dedicated to improving the quality of life for all those with PTSD.

One of HOPE’s services is the Military Veteran Program (MVP). Acting as a direct line of support for service members and veterans, MVP provides peer-to-peer support, outreach, event engagement, and program referral. The program is run by our Military Relations Staff, a team of combat veterans who have experienced firsthand the challenges of war in garrison, family struggles of deployments, and all the transitions that come with answering the call of duty. This team’s experience helps build a connection and create a space where individuals battling PTSD and other traumas can speak freely about their journey with those who can relate to them. 

“The Military Relations Team well understands PTSD,” said Lee Bonar, HOPE’s Director of Military Relations. “Having that experience and genuine connection is hard to place into words, other than it’s an instant release to be back to a place where you’re understood, welcomed, accepted, and able to feel safe with other veterans.”

Currently, the Military Relations Team works with over 280 active-duty service members and veterans, where they connect weekly or bi-monthly, depending on the warrior’s preference. Additionally, this team continuously conducts community outreach at different events to spread the mission of HOPE and encourage new individuals to join MVP to grow their network of support. 

“Connecting to the Military Relations Team and having MVP in your corner gives you someone to call at times when others just can’t understand the stress, anxiety, or triggers that are part of your experience,” said Lee. “PTSD is not one size fits all. It is unique for each veteran, service member, or family member. Whether having experienced a loss or injury in combat, suicide, divorce, sexual assault, or other trauma, our team has experienced these while serving and working with our brothers and sisters here at HOPE.”

When family members watch a loved one cope with PTSD, it can often be difficult to understand, cause a fear of the unknown, and lead to challenges in the relationship dynamic. Part of improving the service member’s or veteran’s overall well-being comes from the care they receive from their support systems in their everyday lives. At HOPE, we recognize the importance of this and are here to help caregivers navigate the role they play in the wellness journey.

“Awareness is key and learning about PTSD is very important,” said Lee. “The service member or veteran may feel you don’t have the right to offer help as you cannot relate to their experience. Have the courtesy to try and understand and put yourself in their place before making judgments. The better the understanding and awareness, the better the possible outcome. Caregivers and spouses can also benefit greatly from our Resilient Family program in building resiliency, coping skills, and managing stress.”

No matter what your experience was like in the military, MVP will be there. If you are going through struggles, obstacles, or simply just need someone to relate to, please click here to take the first step and connect to HOPE, or contact Scott Griffith at sgriffith@hopeforthewarriors.org. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

“The Military Relations and MVP teams are available 24/7/365,” said Lee. “We have our phones, all our clients have our contact information, and we pick up no matter what. Once you are a part of HOPE, you are a part of a family. We are always here.”