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March 31, 2010

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March 31, 2010

I spent 5 years active duty Army, came back from Iraq in June of 2008 and started college in September 2008. Since I was a stop-loss soldier, there was not enough time between getting out of the military and starting school. My transition was extremely rocky because of the overwhelming sense of isolation and paranoia. I did not understand my impatience and rage especially since I was never like this before. My VA certifying official on campus emailed me information on a Vets4Vets workshop. I was hesitant about this organization in the beginning because while in the military, PTSD had been extremely stigmatized. No one wants to admit they have a problem or talk about their experience. With my certifying officials encouragement, I decided to sign up. I can honestly say that was the best decision of my life. There is no greater feeling than to know that you are not alone. The Vets4Vets structure is amazing for it strips away each veterans militant past and provides a safe environment for building an everlasting bond everyone in the room is able to share. Sharing war stories is not an easy task, many veterans choose not to talk about war or their experience. Setting this environment is difficult but the Vets4Vets staff and the way each workshop is set up makes all attendees feel safe in a room full of strangers who will soon become their best friends. I am certain that I can pick up my phone at any time of the day or night to call another vet that has attended the Vets4Vets workshop and they will be willing to drop everything they are doing to talk to me. The power of peer support is unbelievable. There are many stories in a war veterans past that only war veterans can understand. The trauma experienced is no doubt unmanageable, that is why so many veterans commit suicide. To know there are others going through PTSD and are willing to help each other get through it, it undoubtedly saves lives. Thanks to this organization, veterans are able to come together to find others like them and have a strong support system. I can honestly say I would not be here today if it was not for this organization. That is why I will continue to donate and participate in its promotion to save the lives of other veterans.

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The Great!

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

everyday life. I am able to communicate my experience and I have learned to actively listen to others.

Ways to make it better...

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

have more workshops.

More feedback...

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

meeting extraordinary individuals who have touched my heart and making friendships that will last a lifetime.

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

very personable, easy to relate to, and sincerely care about each participant.

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

save the lives of many veterans.

Ways to make it better...

the weekend could be extended longer.

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

lack of funds.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

The Vets4Vets concept and model is outstanding. The Leaders Weekend was well run and well led. That's where the organization seems to fall apart. My experience with them is they are great organizers with non-existent follow through. After repeated emails and phone calls I heard from them only once and that was to ask for a donation. The sad part is that I've been extremely successful using the V4V model in my area and have already "talked a guy off the ledge" as well as become a player in the Veteran community and with the VA. So while I wish the program nothing but success because they provide outstanding tools they fail in the area most critical: communication.

The Great!

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

my community by standing up a V4V support model and used the communication skills to talk a fellow vet out of suicidal thoughts.

Ways to make it better...

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

take a more proactive role in developing communities

More feedback...

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

learning how to execute peer counseling.

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

very cool and took care of us very well.

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

seriously do some good in a community that is repeating the same mistakes made by our fathers after Vietnam. The Veteran community is in need of a serious intervention

Ways to make it better...

they supported me while I built membership. Shit, a returned email or voicemail would have been nice.

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

(is) communication post workshops.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

Michael John Lemke February 24, 1959 Chicago, IL Occupations in adult life: Army: Military Policeman, Unit Training NCO, Infantryman, Combat Engineer, Civilian: shipping/receiving manager, commercial truck driver, certified secondary education social sciences teacher, NY State mental health worker, Colorado Certified Addictions Counselor, Colorado adult parole contract therapist, Transportation Security Administration supervisor. Current graduate student, Colorado Christian University, M.A. Counseling expected 2009. 1977-1980 Active Duty Army Military Policeman Fort Carson, CO and Dexheim, Federal Republic of Germany 1980-1989 Army Reserve New York State, Colorado, and Panama 2001-2004 Colorado Army National Guard (Activated four times) 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics Athlete Security Detail, Airport Security Detail, Colorado’s Hayman Fire in the Pike National Forest 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom Military Police Sergeant operating in areas ranging from Kuwait to Baghdad, search for WMD, convoy security, main supply route patrolling, counter-insurgency operations, cordon and search, weapons seizures 2004 Medically Discharged after a year in “medical hold” at Fort Carson. Awarded 20% disability rating by Army and 80% by VA. Had to repay Army severance amount of @ $28,000 out of VA disability pay. 19-year-old daughter, Heidi in college in Upstate NY (St. Bonaventure) My current residence is Colorado Springs, CO I initially joined the Army in 1977 to serve, and expected a war with Iran or East Bloc countries during the Cold War. I left due to my medical discharge, being disgusted with the Army’s treatment of its own soldiers, and finding myself not believing or being able to trust my superiors, especially the Commander-in-Chief. I was a kid during the Vietnam War, and extremely influenced to serve by its veterans. I began to suspect that war was wrong as a teenager, but still joined the Army. I admired the Vietnam vets I met in the Army (including many Vietnamese-Americans) for their courage, and at the same time began to believe the anti-war movement had been right. I was completely aware of the implications of Kent State and songs like “Ohio”. I am completely supportive of all Vietnam Era and all veterans who served in any war. I think that Korea was our last moral decision to wage war. I do not believe Vietnam was necessary or about fighting Communism. I volunteered to go in again because of 9-11. My college room-mate, Mark Munnelly, was at Ground Zero as a firefighter, and I saw him on Tom Brokaw on NBC. I was very enraged by the act of terrorism on innocents. I was, however, unconvinced of WMD in Iraq and expected to go to Afghanistan to fight Bin Laden’s people and get him. I now feel the Iraq War is a colossal waste of life and money, and has greatly weakened our nation, its military, its treasury, and its government. Neil's work regarding "Living with War" - the album, tour, and website makes me proud I have always associated myself with his music and messages. He is a truth-seeking soul carrying a nation through self-deception and governmental lies. He is a man of great personal integrity, self-searching, and visionary. But he is also a realist. I assess what he does as delivering a rare form of consciousness to the world, at least for those who are awake, and not asleep at the wheel. He is a messenger trying to leave a legacy of truth and has always seemed to be willing to expose himself to the dangers of that. He has the heart of a warrior; he just joins the battle on the field of conscience. Certainly that is equal to the mundane tasks of war. Being part of his movie, “CSNY DéjàV”, which (premiered at Sundance in 2008) makes me feel like not everything I did was a waste. It has made me feel more pain and empathy for the innocent Iraqi people who are dying every day. I don’t feel anything for terrorists. I live with PTSD and many things physically wrong with me, and regret that I went to Iraq. I live with a lot of pain and anger. I am doing my best to turn it all into something good. That’s what my friend Neil Young would have me do. That’s what my Creator would have me do. But it’s not easy “Living With War”. Neil has helped my healing process in what he has done here. He and his wife are full of love and respect. I honor them and the band, and what they all have done here. I want Americans to listen to their veterans for once, their hearts, and their consciences, not the media spin-doctors, propaganda, and politicians. I want every man and woman who served in this war to come home now, and everyone who suffered mental and physical wounds to be treated properly by the government that made the mistake of sending them to this crazy thing.

Photos

The Great!

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

Elections results I was happy with a s a voter.

Ways to make it better...

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

have them get more involved on Capitol Hill.

More feedback...

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

They walk their talk.

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

professional and personally kind and focused.

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

be happy.

Ways to make it better...

They used me more to speak on behalf of veterans' needs.

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

being inappropriately labelled "liberal" andstead of being analyzed for their content and mission.

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

I want this org to succeed and get more vets in both elected and appointed government positions.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

I have been lucky enough to participate with the Vets 4 Vets program for the last 6 months. The group is very responsive to the needs of returning vets and John has bent over backwards to support my departments program for returning officers. In Mar we had a training event set-up especially for ADOC vets to help us become part of the vet 4 vet program. For me this has been vbery important because I have my own issues to deal with and by helping others I have begun to understand my needs. The training was very professionally done, and was enjoyed by all. I have nothing but good comments and feelings about the Vets 4 Vets program. This is one of the most important tools that help vets feel part of the societies they defended.

The Great!

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

My ability to understand my own concerns, and freely et them in the open without worry of people thinking bad of me. THese are men and women who have walked the same sand and ate the same dirt.

Ways to make it better...

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

Develop the program into a much larger and better supported (resources) group of trainers and counselers.

More feedback...

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

Very responsive and dedicated to vets

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

Very professional, totally commited to the group.

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

Do nation wide work with returning vets and expand into supporting past and future vets.

Ways to make it better...

I had found this 5 years ago

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

Overall the largest challenge is going to be resources. The economy in AZ is very hard right now and for a non-profit group it is getting harder to find people to support any NPO. This group is very important but like most of the NPO's as the resources

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

Vets 4 Vets is an investment in the future of our country. We can never forget our vets or leave them to heal on thier own. We failed our Vets in the past we must not fail the future.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

Vets4Vets is an awesome non profit that brings veterans who served during the OIF/OEF era together in a supportive peer support environment. I have been working with Vets4Vets for two years and I have been able to hold two workshops in New York. We were able to hold over 50 workshops and see over 1100 veterans. This is a service that many veterans need and it is a great way to support each other.

The Great!

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

My personal life.

Ways to make it better...

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

Give them more money

More feedback...

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

The honesty and comaraderie.

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

Great to work with and really cared about you!

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

Reach out to all veterans.

Ways to make it better...

I would have know about them sooner.

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

Funding

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

They provide a service that is beneficial to veterans

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

While personally as a Vietnam Vet they have done nothing for me I have seen what they do in bringing diverse veterans together from this current war. I have refered many a wounded soldier whom I have met at the hospitals where I visit to this group. All report favorably on the expierence of gathering together with other veterans of diverse expierence to talk about the mutual shared expierences of Combat Veterans. This group provides an outlet that was denied to my generation of Veterans . I salute and support thier efforts without question. Bigjohn

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The Great!

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

The responses of Veterans refered for a weekend gathering of combat Veterans. The diferences I see before and after attending.

Ways to make it better...

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

Include Vietnam combat veterans.

More feedback...

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

The positive outlook and forward thinking towards veterans.

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

Dedicated.

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

expand it's grass rotts efforts and include more veterans.

Ways to make it better...

They had funding to include a mix of Vietnam Veterans in retreats.

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

Funding.

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

If I had 10 million they could have it.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

As a psychotherapist, I have been supportive of Vets4Vets because of the concept of healing happening in a community of people who share similar experiences. This allows the vet to not feel alone, thus reducing isolation, which could lead to depression. I have been working with a Vets4Vets member to develop a game for vets of this specific war,which opens up a dialog for vets and their families to share their experiences.I have also been a donor to this valuable organization.

The Great!

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

A friend who is a member of this organization has shared with me the benefits it has brought to himself and his family. He has expressed to me how helpful it is for him to be supported by vets who have experienced what he has in this particular war.

Ways to make it better...

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

Assure them that we know how important their mental health is to us and their families and that we are doing everything to keep this organization going.

More feedback...

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

Working with a friend to create a "game"that could open up conversation about vets' experiences around PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Through the dialog, vets can reduce shame and feelings of isolation, anger and grief.

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

Extremely dedicated, professional, compassionate, tenacious,responsible

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

Reach hundreds of thousands of vets of this war. They would have groups meet regularly in every city. Families included. Vets could make home visits to those who can't reach out. Staff would be highly trained from a pool of vets of the Iraq-Afghan war.

Ways to make it better...

The organization didn't have to struggle for funding to stay open and vets could feel like it would always be there for them, whether they used the services at this time or would use them later down the line.

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

Funding. Getting the word out that this is available and what it can provide.

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

I read of a man being deployed, leaving his 8-mo. pregnant wife. He told her he'll come home safe. He didn't tell her he has a high chance of coming home a different man, possibly with a TBI or traumatic stress.Let's assure him there will be support!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

This group has some of the most caring people I ever met. As a infantry vet I wasn't sure about taking to anyone about anything. All I knew was I needed to talk. They gave me an outlet and friends who understood. What more could I ask for? If you are considering contributing or going there for help you will not go wrong.

The Great!

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

help with PTSD and trauma from war.

Ways to make it better...

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

try to have more meet-ups all over the country.

More feedback...

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

the friends I made.

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

all vets. The only way to understand someone is to be in their shoes. They ware.

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

help so many more vets. They are out there and need the help.

Ways to make it better...

I was able to see them more often.

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

the fact that it's so hard for vets with issues to speak to anyone.

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

please help support this group.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

March 31, 2010

more

March 31, 2010

I attended a couples workshop with my husband. It was a very meaningful experience. I was so moved and proud when I heard all the personal stories. It was also nice to hear the wives perspectives. Vets 4 Vets did a great job of finding a nice facility where we were pampered with nice catered meals. I would recommend any veteran to participate in this awesome program!

More feedback...

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

is the nice people that ran the program and the amazing people that attended the event.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

March 30, 2010

more

March 30, 2010

I had went to vets4vets for help with my husband's issues form when he returned from iraq. He felt as if he was alone and that no one would understand. I know i didn't. They helped him with his feelings and to understand that he is not alone, many other service men and women have the same issues. He has learned to open up about his experiences. He has meet others like him and he keeps open communication with them. It is wonderful that he is able to ask for help from vets4vets and get much more in return.

More feedback...

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

just amazing, very understanding and helpful. They try to help in anyway that they can.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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