2023 In Review
Our partner, Wilmington based Coastal Horizons reports that as of December 13, 2023, The Save A Vet Now Veterans Outreach Program has improved the lives of forty-four individuals since its inception hopefully saving a life or two along the way. Those forty-four individuals were seen a total of 854 times at Coastal Horizons. There are several individuals who were seen only once, and one who has, thus far, been seen a total of 365 times. We are, once again, encouraged by this report which indicates we continue to connect with veterans in our local communities. It also helps that several veteran service related organizations support our efforts and promote our Veterans Outreach Program.
Our efforts to increase our communities' awareness of the veteran suicide crisis continued in 2023 through speaking engagements. We addressed several organizations; among them the VFW, Marine Corps League, Knights of Columbus, The Rotary Club, We Are Vets, and the Compass Pointe Veterans Club. This year we focused on giving our audiences an understanding that there are different categories of veterans and different cultures, each having a distinct impact on our communities. Of most importance was identifying that group of veterans who "go it alone," refuse help, and significantly contribute to the veteran suicide crisis. We also offered our suggestion of how their organizations might create opportunities to connect with these veterans and get them the help they need; creating a new tribe and providing support for veterans' transition to civilian life being the highest priority.
In and effort to break down the "silos" among the organizations providing mental health support to veterans, Save A Vet Now co-chaired a seminar with the Cape Fear Veterans Resilience Project. The seminar included local community organizational representatives directly involved with providing mental health support to veterans. Attendees included, among others, representatives from the Veterans Administration, Coastal Horizons, the Naval Medical Center at Camp LeJeune, and local clergy. Among the topics discussed were a) Those veterans who "go it alone," b) The stigma we attach to mental health, c) Obstacles that keep these organizations from reaching veterans, and d) What's needed to improve the services we offer. The seminar was quite successful. All attendees agreed the discussions were fruitful and should be continued periodically.
Save A Vet Now, in conjunction with Detachment 1321 of the Marine Corps League and Post 9983 of the VFW initiated a project to identify how best to engage those veterans who "go it alone" and refuse mental health support. Several representatives from other veteran related organizations joined the effort. Together, we concluded that veterans engaged with other veterans in strictly social environments are the most effective in identifying and connecting with veterans in need of help. Given the limited resources available to us to create such an opportunity, it was decided to give the results of our efforts to the Cape Fear Resilience Project who has sufficient resources and is currently addressing this very issue. A representative from our local project will partner with CFVRP.
Blue Moon Gift Shops and Eclipse Artisan Boutique once again sponsored a successful September Step Up For Vets Fundraiser. The event gets better and better each year.
Bad weather spoiled our November Artwork Can Save A Vet fundraiser. On the bright side, Save A Vet Now was the focal organization for this year's Veterans Day Parade in Wilmington, NC. The recognition we received, the donation tendered by the SENC parade committee, and the connections we made were amazing. Even more important, as a result of our engagement with the organizing committee, we received a referral for our Veterans Outreach Program. We are definitely hoping for better weather next year.