Starfish Foundation Inc

Rating: 4.99 stars   72 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Mental Health, Veterans

Location: 2437 N Booth St Milwaukee WI 53212 USA

Mission: To raise funds for scholarships to assist individuals to attend programs for emotional healing, including providing programs for military veterans to heal the emotional wounds of war.
Target demographics: trauma survivors and military veterans
Geographic areas served: USA
Programs: Healing Warrior Hearts and scholarships to programs that aid emotional healing.
2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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EIN 39-1847399
800-236-4692
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have participated in the Vet's Journey Home weekends as an civilian assistant. The healing that happens during this weekend is stunning. It serves to bring the veterans' experiences into the community in a way that provides clearing and opening and understanding for all of us. I feel privileged every time I am able to offer my services to support this amazing work.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated and talented.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach out to more veterans who deserve every ounce of support they can get after their service.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I am a 20 year retired vet. My experience with Vets Journey Home started with it's predacessor, Bamboo Bridge. I'm the guy always with his back to the wall, always vigilant, looking for the unexpected threat and a way out, or at least I used to be. Since attending that first weekend, and staffing many weekends since, my life is so much different. So much better. I can't say thank you enough.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Bambo Bridge and every Vets Journey Home weekend I've staffed since it's inception

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

giving back to it

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help SO MANY vets find a healing that the medical community just can't fathom, and truly be welcomed home

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I am female Army veteran and have staffed both Vets Journey Home and its predecessor, Bamboo Bridge. Every time I staff I come away with a profound respect and awe for what other veterans have endured in both their military and civilian lives. I have watched vets heal some of these wounds right during the weekend -- becoming lighter, happier, more at peace. As I continue to meet veterans and active military enduring the trauma of war, and of sexual harassment and assault, I am so thankful that I have this program that I can recommend to them to help in their healing.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

witnessing the healing of warriors wounded from their military experience, in every weekend that I have staffed.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find a way to get the word out even more to veterans, veterans organizations, and to make people understand how important it is that we make it okay for people to seek out emotional healing experiences.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the ability to assist fellow veterans truly become "all they can be" by reclaiming their joy and releasing their pain in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

all caring individuals who made the time and effort to "be present" the entire weekend and who made the commitment to continue that support even outside of the weekend.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

hire some graduates and staff of the program to get the word out to all the veterans groups of this work, how and why it is so important and how to make it "okay" to seek out emotional healing.

Ways to make it better...

I could have staffed more weekends.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Trying to train new instructors while keeping the cost low enough so that those veterans who want to attend can do so

One thing I'd also say is that...

This program is not offered anywhere else. Over the many years tha tit has been going on, it has helped so many vets reclaim their lives. It truly provides a "Welcome Home"

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My role was two-fold: I was on the staff as well as being there to observe and write about the Vets Journey Home. I have been to other retreats/weekends for veterans and families and this was unique in many ways. Because the group was so small -- 8 partipants and about a dozen staff members -- there was an intimacy that helped establish an atmostphere of safety and trust that is crucial if there is to be kind of opening up and healing over a short space of time. All the veterans were dealing with issues relating to trauma and therefore, so were their spouses. Patricia Clason is obviously highly skilled in her work, and it became apparent almost immediately, that the particpants were in good hands. She set the tone of safety and trust, of strong boundaries and structure from the beginning and was consistent throughout the weekend. For this community, who all struggle with trust and safety issues, this was crucial. Facilitator Judge Mattocks' skill, wisdom and compassion was evident throughout, as he helped the particpants through some difficult and painful process work. All the staff members showed a level of caring and compassion that was palpable, and the particpants seemed to feel it throughout the weekend. Because the process work is so intense and can be so depleting, it was very important that there be times of refueling and restoring. Mealtime was one of those times. The food was not only delicious but was prepared with love by staff volunteers. For the veterans who have experienced the ripple effects of trauma and a sense of being betrayed and not being cared about, this was important and meaningful. Mealtime provided an opportunity for laughter and letting down, for staff and participants to get to know and enjoy each other. The weather made it difficult to have time outdoors to walk, rest and restore. More time in the fresh air would have been good.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Knowing that I can recommend this organization and program to other veterans and their families. Also, the use of ceremony during the weekend was a powerful and healing tool, experienced not only by the participants but the staff, including me.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

In terms of the structure of the weekend, I would have Friday night be a shorter, earlier night, after people have had a busy week, have traveled and are tired.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The people: their dedication and level of commitment and their kindness.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Willing to be honest. And they were so courageous. Their honesty and courage have inspired me.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Pay for veterans and their families to travel from all over the country and participate. It could pay for weekend retreats where the accomodations are comfortable, restful and nurturing.

Ways to make it better...

I had known a little more about the process work in advance. Most of the staff volunteers were experienced but it would have helped to know a little more about what to expect.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Probably funding.

One thing I'd also say is that...

It needs to stay "small" in terms of small groups of participants. It needs to stay personal, intimate, "hands-on".

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

The Vet's Journey Home provides an opportunity for veterans to be welcomed home in a safe, trusting and nurturing environment. The staff of caring men and women is highly motivated and skilled to allow the participants to heal old wounds and traumas, tell their stories and feel like they are deeply connected to others who have endured similar circumstances. I have been deeply moved by the strength, honesty, courage and miraculous healing that this workshop evokes.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The strong intention to help veterans.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Incredibly dedicated.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Have a very large impact on veteran's health.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

My first staffing of VJH took place when my son was in Iraq. I was not only able to give my time, talent, and hope to the vets, I gained so much more for myself in understanding what these wonderful soldiers face everyday of their lives after experiencing war. My son will be leaving for his 9th deployment soon. I feel my volunteer work with VJH is a way of contributing back to the families who have sacrificed day to day life while the soldiers are deployed. It is also a way of saying thank you to those same soldiers who have given so much and can't always find who they are after deployment until they experience the Vets Journey Home Weekend.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

volunteering as a Mother of a soldier. I found a group of people who understand my feelings and fears. Who can help me work through the tough times and teach me to help others.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find the grant money to train more volunteers so this program could be experienced in every county of these United States. There is not enough personal growth work in our communities to help those returning from war.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the strengths, skills, openness, and love each volunteer brings to the weekend. Each of us is there for a reason which unfolds and connects us to those we are there to serve.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

knowledgeable, experienced, both vets and non-vets, who have great love and empathy.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

relieve the stress and pain of many soldiers and their families. It could save marriages and support the children of our future with healthier parents.

Ways to make it better...

I could staff every weekend. My compassion for others is strong and I greatly want to share my gifts.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

publicity, funding, locations to hold the trainings, and volunteer training.

One thing I'd also say is that...

the volunteers are the best in the business. They have hearts that are wide open and willing to hold the pain of wounded vets and their families so that healing can begin.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

I was a participant of one of the Vet's Journey Home Weekend's a few years ago. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I was a woman in combat in 1991 during Desert Storm. I have a bad case of PTSD. These people understood and helped me adjust far more than any V.A. program ever designed for us to date. Before the weekend, I was on the verge of suicide. Since, I have written 2 books and produced over 180 short films. My life went from having no meaning to finding abundance. I have continued to go back and volunteer at every possible weekend since. I get a lot from volunteering and knowing I helped make a difference in another struggling veteran's life. There aren't enough words in the English language to sing the praises of VJH and the Starfish Foundation Inc. Patricia Clason and Gene McMahon are wonderful healers and should be afforded every opportunity possible to keep doing the work they have dedicated themselves to by helping veterans. With the troops coming home from two wars, they provide an invaluable service. Please help them keep healing us.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I was a severely depressed disabled veteran with ptsd. Their methods gave me specific means to cope and taught me how to use the tools to make my life better. I doubt I would have still been alive today to tell you this had it not been for them.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

train more professionals leaders so that there could be more weekends available to veterans. I would also continue to do the work with couples. The last time I volunteered we worked with couples and it was amazing!

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I have been able to go through training and volunteer an average of twice a year since finishing my weekend as a participant. It gives me more home and understanding of my own problems every time we help someone else.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Gene McMahon and Patricia Clason were well trained professionals. Gene being a veteran understood first hand what it was like to serve. Patricia being the daughter of a Sergeant Major understands a lot about the military as well.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help many more veterans. It could start more weekends around the country so it would be available to more veterans. They could train more people. They could afford the costs of putting veterans through this program and continue to keep it free to vets.

Ways to make it better...

I hadn't waited so long. I went through many more years of anguish that could have been avoided if I had known about this program earlier.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Mainly money. It is had to raise enough money to meet the needs of all the veterans. It would be wonderful if they could receive enough financial backing to help every returning veteran.

One thing I'd also say is that...

during the old days when Native American warriors returned from battle. The Medicine Man took them away from the village and worked with them until they were ready to return to society. It worked then and this program works now. Please support it!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I volunteered to staff at the Vets Journey Home. org several times. I was so impressed with the depth of their work, that I raised funds and did a documentary which they now use on their website to promote the work they do with Vets. They have a weekend workshop which truly begins to bring soldiers back from their war/trauma and experiences by using a combination of well orchestrated exercises-- that really take people back into their most difficult moments and then transform and re-frame the other memory with the help of the compassionate people in the room staffing. It is deep and miraculous work.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Watching men really get a handle on PTSD by transforming memories and reframing their war experiences. It is a place to grieve and let go of the past in safe supportive environment among others who have been touched by war.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

They have a total and profound commitment to bring men and women who have seen combat back from the war zone that will live on in their mind if they don't go through the fear and feel the feelings they stuffed during combat.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Every one there has to write a two page letter about why they want to staff and what their experience with war has been. The people who staffed with me were compassionate and non-judgemental. They listened with their hearts to the stories of the vets.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Help so many more vets return to productive civilian life. So many men and women who served in the armed forces would be happier with their lives and families.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I volunteered to be a staff person at a Vet's Journey Home weekend in San Diego in 2009. Not being a military veteran myself, I was still anxious to support the men and women who had served in the many conflicts to which our soldiers have been ordered since World War II. My experience was positive; I was able to see how vital this type of process is for some Vets. There were tears and many stories recounting loss, fear, regret and guilt felt by different veterans. There was also an atmosphere of complete acceptance that allowed for healing, for moving on to the present and getting on with life.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

For many vets, just showing up was a huge step toward dealing with the ghosts of war that haunted them. Several underwent almost complete tranformations between Friday morning and Sunday afternoon. Men who arrived withdrawn and stiff became relaxed.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Perhaps it would be better if all the staff members were vets themselves. Not that there weren't plenty of former soldiers present.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

I learned that the wounds of war--fear, guilt, anger--can be healed, or at least lessened by understanding and support.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

A wide variety of people volunteered. We had people from the medical profession, factory workers, teachers. Several were long time activists in Veterans affairs and very knowledgeable about the military and vets' issues.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

...reach the millions of Vets who live with emotional war wounds. The damage is being done daily to soldiers serving around the world. We owe them whatever help we can muster.

Ways to make it better...

I had a better understanding of the war experience--how it really is as opposed to the movies.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Society doesn't want to deal with the damage that war does to soldiers. To reach the millions of vets who could benefit will take a massive outreach--it won't be cheap but America will be better for it.

One thing I'd also say is that...

No one is making any money on Vet's Journey Home. There's virtually no overhead. It involves Vets to help Vets.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-5-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

After returning home from my tour in 'Nam, I stayed drunk for many years, hoping to forget. The only joy I had was through my children. I did finally quit drinkin, and the pain continued. I still had the issues, dreams and pain. It wasn't til I heard about Vets Journey Home, it was called Bamboo Bridge at that time, 1997, that I did any real work in my issues. A buddy told me about the weekend and I decided to attend. The Fridayy evening of the weekend, I got so scared of facing my demons, that I left and didn't come back that weekend. Some time passed, the pain increased and the dreams kept me from functioning in the world. I decided to face my fears and attend another Vets Journey Home weekend. This one, I saw thru. I faced the worst of my dreams, talked about it for the first time in many, many years. That weekend started me on my path to self recovery. With the help of the very concerned staff, I was taken back to 'Nam and talked about what happened. After that weekend, I still have the dreams, and they don't have the charge they had, nor do they own me any more. It has been my honor to staff many Vets Journy Home weekends. Giving back the the orginazation that, litteraly saved my life and sanity.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

staffing the Vets Journey Home weekends. Seeing the wounded Vets find an honorable homecoming.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find better ways to get the word about the good work that Vets Journey Home does

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

watching the faces of the families, seeing their loved ones, really come home

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

decitaed, honorable people wanting to help the Vets that have secured their freedom

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

go nation wide and help thousands of wounde Vets, from all wars

Ways to make it better...

had taken the weekend sooned

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

not being well enough known

One thing I'd also say is that...

one of the most valuable things that I have learned, is NOT talking about what happened to me or any combat Vet, is NOT the way to handle it!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

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