This program deserves immense support. I have witnessed transformational experiences in every participant I know who has been through the Vets Journey Home program. This is just as true for staff as it is for participants.
I was introduced to this program through my nephew, who went through the VJH program. He is an Iraq vet and was suffering from PTSD. The experience of completing the program made a tremendous difference in his life and in his family's lives. He became more able to adjust back into daily life, enjoy family gatherings, be in crowded places without getting extremely anxious. He could sleep better and found a calling to help other vets do the same.
He is now volunteering to work with his brother/sister vets and helping them in their assimilation back to a more normal life after their military experience. This program works with small groups of vets and letting them tell their story in a safe space and to heal some of the wounding from their experience. We owe this to the men and women who fought and continue to fight for our freedoms in all wars.
I have personally seen very positive results as a result of Vets Journey Home from let's just say a relative. One who is like a son to me. He has worked very hard on his PTSD through VJH and has made amazing progress. His family has benefited greatly, he has become a role model for his family and all around him. He is positive, energetic, spiritual, engaging, non-judgemental, and very helpful to other veterans. I couldn't be more proud of him. We all have Vets Journey Home to thank for his transformation. I highy recommend the group and the programs that they sponsor.
I am a wife of a veteran that went through the program 3 years ago. I cannot say enough about this wonderful organization and the many volunteers that offer so much of their time and unconditional love to veterans. After the vets goes through this weekend experience, they have a graduation ceremony for them where family and friends are invited to come. I walked into the room prior to the ceremony and chills came over me and tears immediately came rolling down my cheek. I was filled with a wave of emotion just by entering the room as I knew something had changed. There were many times before this weekend I considered taking our children and leaving as we didn't know the husband and dad we were living with anymore. We just as everyone else had expected him to come back just the same man as when he left for Iraq. This was definitely not the case. War changes a person no matter what their role; combat or not. It was such a struggle watching this beautiful soul who is my husband turn into such a different person. I didn't know who he was anymore and struggled as I didn't want to leave and take the father away from our children even though we didn't know this person anymore. He tried to burry himself in work, college, and a huge overhaul of our home (all at the same time) to keep his mind occupied. I adapted and tried to make things as normal as I could for our family. We started seeing behaviors modeled by our children that we were seeing in him and knew something had to change. I often remember thinking..."what am I doing wrong?" He was involved with the VA and were starting to see some results from his counseling there, however there was something missing. He was realizing the same things. He discovered VJH and noticed there was a weekend coming near and it was held in the Northern Wisconsin Woods, a perfect setting for him. I am eternally grateful for the staff and instructors that weekend that gave him their expertise, support, and unconditional love. It was just the emotional healing that he needed! This gave him the tools he needed to deal with his PTSD as well as the tools he needed to be the husband and dad we knew he was. I am glad to report today that our marriage is saved, he is more of a dad than I could have ever asked for, and an amazing person to be able to share my life's journey with. Please encourage anyone you love to find the nearest program weather they are an OIF/OEF vets, Saudi, Vietnam, Korea, any vet needs to find this program. I have since had the privilege give back to staff one of these weekends, there were veterans that attended from Vietnam that were STILL holding on to guilt or shame from their tour and were able to release that. It was so amazing to me to see the look on a veteran participants face on Friday when they arrived and compare it to Sunday at the graduation ceremony...in many cases you wonder if you are looking at the same person. Incredible and by far one of the best experiences of my life to be privileged to be a part of. I am happy not only to be there to help the veteran but also to represent and help the families of these veterans that are suffering and most likely suffering silently as we were.
I experienced VJH shortly after my wife and I seperated. VJH helped me gain tools to help me better cope with PTSD and how to deal with post military life. I served in the US Marine Corps and I truly had a hard time adapting to civilian life. I was angry, scared, and frustrated with myself, family, friends, and even my God for the madness I felt on a daily basis. At VJH I found out that I was no longer alone that their were other vets dealing with the same pains as I was. I truly appreciate VJH for their work with Vets.
John Zavala Jr. (Board Member VJH Texas)
I have had the great privilege to not only meet a retired Marine but to actually get to know him on a deep and personal level. He has told me about what this organization has done and continues to do for him. He is now a volunteer having worked two weekends. Although I haven't had the opportunity to volunteer yet, I do look forward to the day that I can. I am so thankful for the staff and what they have done for my friend and for so many others. I recommend this to all vets that have experienced any sort of trauma or life changing experience.
I am a reired Army Veteran that this program has served and benefitted. This is an amazing program for veterans that allowed me an opportunity to began my healing process. I am so very grateful to Sam Luna for inviting me to come and be a part of my journey home. Patricia Clason is an amazing woman that every person ever served in our armed forces should meet. Thank You for caring about us. The staff and volunteers were so very kind to me. Words cannot describe the impact this program has had on my recovery. Again, Thank You!
I staffed Vet's Journey home the first time 6 years ago. Since that time I have been at more than 12 weekends. Not only do I have the opportunity to be a small part of the healing that takes place I also am there to listen, love, and welcome the Vet's home with open arms. VJH has also helped me to feel closer to my son (even though he is far away) who has been deployed many times over the last 10 years. As a family member of a serviceman I get a chance to give back just a little of what they give to our country. This is the most loving, open and welcoming program I have been fortunate to volunteer with in over 30 years of volunteer work. The transformation that takes place for the Veterans is amazing.
I "did" the weekend back in 1997 when it was called The Bamboo Bridge. The name has been changed however the objective and amazing results are the same. After doing the weekend I assisted at several following weekends and found that it didn't matter much whether I was a student of the weekend or an assistant. The healing and growth kept on coming.
I spent a year in Vietnam in a relatively safe environment and realized years later that I had this guilt of not being part of the horrors of battle that affected so many others that were over there. The weekend helped me actually see what really mattered. I did the best job that I could do with the tasks that I was given. I realized that my duty from that point on was to honor every person that was and is in the service for standing up and doing what they are asked to do. I often ask the men and women that didn't make it back during the year I was there if I am living up to there expectations. I really feel that they deserve the best out of me as they gave up all that they could be keeping me safe over there. They'll let me know if i did ok when we all get together again.
I started out w/ Vets Journey Home as a volunteer & staffed my first weekend in the spring of 2009. I saw the powerful difference it made in the lives of the participants & thanks to Gene, received healing that I didn't even know I needed after my time in the Navy in the early '80s. Since then, I've staffed each weekend that's taken place here in Maryland. Each time reinforces why I support VJH - because it definitely helps heal the wounds of the soul that veterans & others impacted by the trauma of war have received. I cannot recommend the weekend enough for those struggling with the aftereffects of war.