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Starfish Foundation Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts, Culture & Humanities, Counseling, Mental Health, Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans

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.

Community Stories

125 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

The healing and insight I experienced in the Healing Warrior Hearts weekend retreat was so transformation that I have participated in every type of event The Center of Creative Learning has offered in the last 2 and a half years since I discovered it! I'm now known for saying, "We have a weekend for that!" because Patricia Clason, her instructors and volunteer staff provide "the space" and empathy for the full, free and safe expression of all emotions associated with whatever trauma a person is dealing with and the unique expertise to guide them through it!Guided by integrity, the focus remains on doing everything with excellence and elegance! Patricia models that through transparency that inspires everyone involved to do the best they can and not beat themselves up when we don't get the results we were hoping for which empowers us to continue our journey to be our best!That same integrity shines in how Patricia is an incredible steward of the resources that are shared with her to advance this emotional healing work! I continually witness her being frugal with donations and expenses while being generous with people!Everyone should experience a program with Patricia Clason at The Center for Creative Learning! Come for the emotional healing, the hugs or the personal and professional development that you cannot escape while in her presence!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

8 amomtomany

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 iceman64

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have staffed the Vets Journey Home weekend every time there is one in Texas with one exception. I have seen the healing of soldiers (men and women that is miraculous)as they deal with the wounds of war that cannot be seen, but affect their lives deeply. This weekend helps them to get back into the life they left behind to go to combat. They are all heroes and deserve our support in every way. I wish this weekend was available all over the country as there are thousands veterans and their families who do not get this opportunity in any other way.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first attended the predecessor of the Vets Journey Home called the Bamboo Bridge in 1998. As a Viet Nam vet i only spoke about my war experiences to a select few, mostly other VN vets. My experience that weekend was profound and healing. Since that September day I have staffed over 30 of these weekends and each one has been exceptional. On a graduation ceremony last year we had a 3 star admiral attend who stated to the group that this work we are doing is vital and ground breaking.

1

Client Served

Rating: 4

I am a disabled Vietnam Vet suffering from PTSD. I was in the very first PTSD group in the nation. It was in Milwaukke, WI, in 1971. I was in a PTSD group from 1988 to 1989. I also had many 1:1 sessons through out my life dealing with PTSD. In 2002 I was in an in-patient, 60 day PTSD group. I continue to be in a group for the last 3 years. Yet I continued to carry alot of guilt, shame and sorrow that came from some experiences that occured while in Nam. I went to a Vets Journey home weekend in October of 2009. Through the processes and staff help I became relieved of the shame and guilt I had been carrying for the last 40 years. It was an epiphany. I was able to forgive myself and my PTSD symptoms have decrease as did my depression. I recommend the Vets Journey home program to any combat Vet that feels they could benefit from some intervention. The staff are extremely kind, gentile, supportive and professional. The staff go out of their way to make sure that the participants are in a safe environment. AND YOU GET A REALLY COOL T-SHIRT. BREEZY BRZESKI

8 lholyfield

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was impressed beyond words by the professionalism and obviously well trained facilitators at the Vets Journey Home Project. The facilitators and the volunteer staff demonstrate a deep appreciation for our veterans and compassionate understanding for the challenges that come with reintegration. I think having veterans give back to the program through volunteering is the greatest evidence of the powerful work that gets done with VJH. I remain in awe of the excellence and loving atmosphere that is veteran centered.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was invited to participate several times before I went through this wonderful program we call Vets Journey Home. After going through as a participant and being helped to dump 30+ years of guilt and total silence and keeping everything buried deep inside, I got to tell some other Vets and some very caring staff members my story. It was a wonderful journey and the GREATEST welcome home I have ever recieved. Actually it was the FIRST welcome home I ever recieved. What a wonderful program staffed totally by Volunteers a lot of whom are Veterans themselves and have been through the program as a participant. They now want to share in this great work as a volunteer staff member to help bring any other Veteran of any branch of service and from any war or combat theatre give them all a HEALTHY, HAPPIER and more steady footing for their new life. It also gives the Veterans family a new, more loving, sharing start. I cannot count all the blessings I got by going through the program and I now volunteer to staff any VJH home weekend that comes up. It is always FREE for all vets. We feel that they have already paid their price! Sincerely, Hal A. Irwin

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with the Vets Journey Home / Starfish Foundation for 10 years. I have staffed 20+ weekends and instructed quite a few as well. These men and women hold space for the vets with such love and conviction that it makes personal awareness and change possible for the wounded Vet. As a Vet and as an Army Brat who lost his father in 1968, I have nothing but love and admiration for the particiaptns, staff, and the Mission.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a civilian volunteer for VETS JOURNEY HOME. I am going to go back as many times as they will have me. The healing work that is done by vets and supported by staff is deep, profound, and much-needed. The vets who attended this great weekend, which is free to vets [as VJH says, Vets have paid enough] ranged in ages from about 23 who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, to an 80 yr old who had served in Korea. The safety and intimacy of the weekend allowed those vets to share things that they had carried silently for years about their experiences. And each was welcomed home with gratitude and joy by the staff all weekend, and by staff and visitors on Sunday. It was a beautiful, moving experience for me. I judge that it was even more powerful for those vets. VJH is essential for vets to "come back" home, even decades after they left the combat zone. I have not been a part of anything that has had more impact and importance than Vets Journey Home. brad jones

5

Former staff

Rating: 5

I have been a part of Vets Journey Home since its inception. I first participated in The Bamboo Bridge in May of 2002, when I finally realized that even though I had escaped my tour in Vietnam physically unscathed, I had not escaped emotionally unscathed. Bamboo Bridge helped me begin my healing journey. So I continued it by, among other things becoming a volunteer and staffing weekends to help others and continue my own healing work. Later, when Bamboo Bridge transitioned into Vets Journey Home, I made the transition as well. I have witnessed and experienced much emotional healing at VJH weekends and seen many a wounded warrior from wars as diverse as Korea and the current conflicts (as well as those in between) find a measure of peace and reconciliation with themselves and others over what they had done and what was done to them by war. I plan to continue this work as part of my healing. Beyond what I have written here, words cannot express how valuable I believe this work is for a returning veterans from humanity's wars. It needs to continue until all wounded warriors have experienced it. In the military, we have a code that includes not leaving fellow service members behind in combat zones. What many outside the society of veterans do not realize is that this obligation remains with us till the day we die. When a brother or sister has not yet emotionally come home from her or his war, we still need to be there for them, find them, and help them to come home.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a military mental health technician with a specialty in combat psychiatry I was trained in clinical theory. As a Veteran working in the Veterans Community I have seen how Post Traumatic Stress has affected Veterans and their family’s daily lives. Traditional interventions are often not enough. Vets Journey Home helps Veterans reach into the body and soul of their experience to begin the healing process for themselves and their families. It returns honor to what it means to be a Veteran. Please help support Vets Journey Home through the Starfish Foundation. Best Regards, Vera Roddy US Air Force, 1977-1992, Cold War/Desert Shield/Desert Storm BA, Psychology, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a Vietnam veteran carrying some ghosts for over 30 years. The experience of Vets Journey Home helped me let go of these ghost and find closer to feelings that were bottled up inside me for many years.

3 Starthrower

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Starfish Foundation has made it possible for us to heal deeply wounded hearts from military combat/experiences. Vets Journey Home (http://www.vetsjourneyhome.org) receives hundreds of volunteer hours from all involved and every dollar the Starfish Foundation provides goes directly to program delivery. To hear the vets speak of their first full night's sleep in 30 years, or feeling connected to their families again, is so very rewarding and worthwhile. They were willing to give all. Thank you Starfish Foundation for making it possible for us to give back!