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Vets4Vets

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Vets4Vets is a non partisan organization dedicated to helping Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans to heal from the psychological injuries of war through the use of peer support.

Geographic areas served: National

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As the year has passed I have continued to be impresses with the results the staff are able to obtain when working with Iraq and Afghanistan - Era veterans during their transition back home. As we all know, that transition may take a very long time but having an organization such as Vets 4 Vets available 24 / 7 to assist during the bumps in the road is priceless.

Previous Stories
7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

How can anyone write a review about an organization that has saved the lives of so many, and has the potential to change the lives of so many more. I learned about Vets4Vets V4V at a time in my life when the services of such an organization was sorely needed. I have learned that peer support, and the time to tell my story, are invaluable. I have watched first hand the power V4V peer support groups have on those who finally come to one of the workshops. I will continue to participate in such workshops not only as a casual observer but as one who will lead groups discussions, providing that vital peer support all veterans deserve after returning from the rigors of combat. There is no doubt in the mind of this 37 year Marine veteran that the program as presented by V4V is the most powerful ever offered. Semper Fi - Tim Bahr, CWO-4, USMC (Retired / IRR)

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization assists Iraq/Afghanistan vets and helps us re-asimilate, as well as deal with WAr and all its isssues we carry home with us. I went to an alll expenses paid 'retreat' for FEMALE Warriors that is so new its unheard of---and yet there are many of us, myself included, who were wounded in the line of duty in Iraq/Afghanistan. We are the unknown ver population. Women are 'out there'--serving as gunners and every other field needed during a war. I was a field surgeon who served almost three years in Iraq in 3 tours until wounded in 2007. I spent almost 3 YEARS getting treatment for my injuries, lost my med license from a head injury, and was retired--spit out by the US Army. We females have many issues that we need the support and PRIVACY offered by Vets4Vets in this retreat---where we can cry if we need to and not be ashamed that we are weak for doing it. We hold up under pressure and have many war experiences the same as other guys---yet we are women, and we need each other, need female support, and need our sig. others to at least TRY and understand us. This organization put on a retreat where we opened up, learned, grew and healed together. They had volunteer counselors as well as a great outdoor experience in San Louis Obispo, Ca. I will never forget it. Since I am now a retired physician, I offered to be a volunteer for them--they do GREAT work. There is really no one concentrating on IRAQ and AFghanistan vets. We are different from Viet Nam, different from Desert Storm----we have unique experiences. They are meeting our NEEDS in a great way. They are a GREAT org!!!! I thank them every day for the healing I experienced at that retreat!

4

Former Volunteer

Rating: 5

Vets4vets retreat. We held honest talks about our prior experiences during our military career. That included interventions with issues dealt during times away from family and friends. Fun activities were conducted to find common ground and to be able to trust each other and open up our internal pain and traumas encountered while over seas. The experiences helped each every one from the retreat to find happiness and lead other veterans to enter the Vets4vets meetings. Also these activities brought a sense of belonging and understanding, helping us realize that there aren't just few fellow soldiers dealing with everyday transition difficulties. We all dealt with it and thousands more and it was a way of opening up to a more healthier life. Vets4vets did and still carry on with their missions and I was proud to be a part of such movement.

8

Client Served

Rating: 4

My experience with Vets4Vets was really an empowering experience. I was able to freely bond with other veterans who encoutered some of the same hardships that I encountered. We were allowed a platform to be free and not judged by our thought and experiences. We were in a remote location that was close to nature and it created an even more serene atmosphere.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Vet4Vets has enable to move forward with my life and to realize thta their those who really care and are aware of veterans who suffer emotional and ohsycholigical issues as a result of serving out great nation in times of peace and combat. The organization made me realize thta I am NOT forgotten and thta their are others out there thta do suffer great emotional and phsycohological issues. I retired from the military and sufferred PTSD and other medical issues as a result of combat and felt alone and frighten and turned to alcohol to deal with my emotions as a result of PTSD. Vets4vets placed me in groups with other vets and made me realize thta their is hope for me and others like me. That their is an organization who truly cares for me. I can honestly say that if it were not for the group retreats, discussion groups, and the ability to share my turmoil and challenges in a quiet and safe environment, I would not be alive and sober today. Vets4vets is an organization that has made a positive and significant impact in life!!

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

First off let me say "I am NOT a COMBAT Vet"! I am a Marine Corps Vet and served with Fox Co. 2/8 2nd Mar Div. I am a "disabled Vet" and served 82-86 and have my own problems, but would never look a "Combat Vet" in the eye and say "I understand" even with my training. I was fortunate, maybe even lucky some would say to never have had to apply the skills I was taught and trained for. I am always looking for ways to help other Vets as well as help myself and was introduced to Vets4Vets a couple of years ago by my friend Joe Sturdivant whom I met while serving on the Mental Health Consumer Council at the VA Hospital in La Jolla California and is also an OIF/OEF Case Manager for the VA and Veteran Advocate. Even though I am not a "Combat Vet" Jim Driscoll, founder of Vets4Vets and the staff allowed me to attend 4 Vets4Vets weekend workshops around the Country and the best I can come up with to say is "WOW"! While Vets4Vets is no "Silver Bullet" the effect's are awesome. Again like I said earlier I am no combat vet and face my own problems and V4V helped put things in perspective for me and I got to witness first hand what it did for our men and women, "gay" and "straight" who have had to face the horrors of war. I have been in the VA system as a patient for 23 years and have seen many Vet programs and in my own humble opinion Vets4Vets has to be one of the best I have seen and been a part of. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of really good programs for Vets out there this just happens to be one that I personally know about, was fortunate to have been allowed to be a small part of, and stand behind 100%. The great thing about Vets4Vets is that it is truly "Non-Partisan, Non-Political"! No Doctors, No "Rank", just men and women who have been there done that, or like in my case, have a closer connection than most. I feel confidant saying that all monies that go to helping Vets4Vets help our Vets is money very well spent and deserved. I am not employed by, or have any connection with Vets4Vets other than being a disabled Marine Corps Vet who was helped by and had the fortune and honor of being allowed to attend Vets4Vets weekend workshops. As for the question below that asks "How frequently have I been involved with the organization"? Directly? or Indirectly? Directly, at the 4 workshops I attended I got to spend time with Jim and participate in the groups and feel as well as see the beginning of much needed healing. Indirectly, This is an every day thing for me. I spread the word about Vets4Vets via he internet and in person to anyone and everyone who is interested in knowing and learning what V4V is about and it's benefits. What did you do? I sought the help I desperately needed and found Vets4Vets by accident or coincidence either way V4V was a huge help. As for "Your role" My role is being a Veteran myself and making sure my fellow Vets know about organizations like this that are out there for us and are ready and willing to help. What did you do? That is a broad question. What I did do and what I continue to do is to help Veterans of all eras in any way I can. Is this review for a specific contest? YES A Race. The Human race and those of us that served for whatever our reasons are, or were, and to make sure that our service to our "Country" was not in vain. When was your last experience with this nonprofit? That would be like asking me "When was my last experience with oxygen". I live this every day of my life with honor and pride.

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a Marine Iraq Veteran of two tours, I experienced and witness a lot of negative situations in the war. After I discharge from the service, I was feeling a sense of isolation and many other symptoms that I had. I ended finding out that it was PTSD symptoms that I was having. I was diagnosed with PTSD from the VA and I started receiving treatment through them. Even though I was receiving treatment, I felt that I was still struggling in school and my social life; due to my symptoms. In late 2007, I attended my first Vets4Vets workshop. Immediately, I felt extremely comfortable and there I learned and experienced the peer support. Vets4Vets has been a place where I can share and talk about my experience without anyone judging me. With their support and guidance I have felt that this organization has helped me more on my journey to recover from my PTSD disability. The VA has been a great help, yet I credit Vets4Vets more for my recovery. Ever since my first workshop I attended, I have felt better as a person. I strongly encourage every Veteran to attend these workshops because peer support is a big tool to utilize and it does help talking to other combat veterans. Since Vets4Vets has helped me so much, I have started our own Vets4Vets chapter in Los Angeles and have local meetings on a monthly basis. We even had a family BBQ at the park for Veterans and over 100 Veterans and their families participated.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Vets4Vets was a GREAT peersupport group that helped me out alot in 2008 and I am now wanting to go back and talk about my experiences in Combat and let that load off of shoulders again. I takes more than once or twice to help yourself, it takes years.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My Name is Joe and I am a combat veteran of two Wars Opeartion Desert Storm and Opearation Iraqi Freedom. I first heard about Vets4vets in 2008 upon enrolling in the VA Medical Center right after my discharge from the military. At first I was skeptical about what I read and heard about this program that offered workshop retreats across the country to combat veterans at no cost. Vets4Vets gave me an opportunity to talk to other veterans like myself, by taking equal and uninterrupted turns listening and speaking. This experience has most differently increase my ability to self manage my life as I do suffer from the unhidden wounds of this war. Thank you to all whom serve to support organization such as this. Semper Fidelis, Joe Sturdivant Msgt USMC " Marine for Life"

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello My Name is Kevin Cottrell, I'm an Iraq Veteran from Northern New York. My first time attending a Vets4 Vets workshop was in Sept of 2008 In Stoney Point New York. This was a great experience I meet Able and Johnny from V4Vs. I learned a lot about listening turns in a group and one on one. i learned that i was not alone in the way I was thinking and feeling. I meet 25 different other vets from different areas of the U.S. but we all had the same things in common. I left this workshop with tolls in my tool box that i could use to help me and help others. I returned to college and work with my counselor to start a vets support group and a network of vets on campus. I also took away a network of friends that i can call and talk with on the phone or via email. I have attended several other vet gruops put on by the VA and found them to be less efective in helping me. The greatest outcome from my workshops is the fact I Listen to a fellow Vet and Know that it just helps to listenand aloow them to get rid of that thought that is holding them back.

8

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 2

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.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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

6

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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.