After publishing my book, Prelude to Reveille: A Vietnam Awakening, I wanted to donate partial profits to a hands-on group led by dedicated, honest, veterans. I asked several Vietnam veterans for ideas, and the name Vets Journey Home quickly came to the top of the list. I contacted Founder and Director, Gene McMahon, who is also a Certified Instructor and Instructor Trainer. He invited my husband, a Vietnam veteran, to attend as a participant, and me to attend as a staff member. Gene and his trained staff worked with each veteran, collectively and individually. Within hours, the participants had bonded like "a band of brothers," already experiencing changes in their lives. I witnessed nine veterans who arrived in pain from combat experiences heal throughout the weekend. By Sunday night, the terrible burden they had carried, some for decades, others for a few years, was lifted. My decision to support VJH financially and physically was easy. Vets Journey Home puts veterans back together and makes miracles happen.
I have since staffed 5 Vets Journey Home weekends and joined the West Coast board, and I'm totally hooked on this organization. We do so much good, and pick up where the VA and other governmental agencies leave our vets with nothing to sustain them. I've heard several grads of the program say that we provide a family, and it's true. Vets can return to staff weekends and continue their connection with our extended "family," all the while paying it forward and feeling good about themselves and their contributions. This is a nonprofit that is all heart, and it deserves all the support and recognition it can get.
Vets Journey Home has become a new passion in my life. I staffed my first VJH weekend in January of 2011 and fell in love with the program, the participants, the rest of the staff, and the leaders. As a facilitator for similar programs that are not specifically for military vets, I really value that Vets Journey Home provides an essential service, free of charge, to those who have served our country. The sheer magnitude of the healing and transformation that occurs on these retreats is something that has to be seen to be believed.
Vets Journey Home is an honorable welcoming intensive weekend. It was started by a Viet Nam veteran that felt a need to welcome home Viet Nam veterans that had gotten no support from the general population. It has morphed into a multi state organization that has brought home many hundreds of Veterans of all services, that have served in war and peace time. A major benefit is the women that attend these weekends. They are able to tell their story in a very safe container. As an instructor for these weekends, I have seen many hurting veterans find the peace they are looking for and have seen them return to the joy that they so richly deserve!
Vets Journey Home came to early on when it was Bamboo Bridge. I took Bamboo Bridge in 1997 and have been active in what is now Vets Journey Home. In taking the weekend back in '97, I, for the first time in many years was able to tell my story to people that could and would understand. It was, literally, a life changing weekend. That was the weekend that I started my journey home. I had been lost and shut down for a long time.talking abut my 'Nam experience, and getting out in the open served to start healing the emotional wounds that I have experienced. Now staffing the weekends, giving back, has helped me to continue to heal and has started the healing process for other wounded vets.
I have been to several of the "graduations" held at the end of the weekend & I know the facilitators and some volunteers. They truly love what they do, they love vets and serve them in a way vets need. This organization is making a difference in the lives of those that have sacrificed so much for us. They deserve to be recognized & supported. Thank you. God Bless America and those who serve.
This program is an exceptional honoring of veterans from all wars. The work done at VJH lifts and celebrates veterans in such a way that they often feel it's their first true welcome home. I was so inspired by the program that I felt compelled to write about it along with oral histories from Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers returning from war. I included their program in the book because it reveals the hope that comes from healing wounded hearts. Anyone who has served deserves this program! Readers can learn more about it by purchasing my book, Veterans' Journeys Home: Life after Afghanistan and Iraq. Half of the royalties from this book are donated to VJH!! That's how important the program is. Lori Holyfield
Once I registered, "Larry the Vet" called to keep me updated. It was an intense weekend in Wisconsin's Northwoods. The campsite was awesome and the food terrific. The staff/volunteers were so KIND it was almost uncomfortable. (I got used to it). The eye to eye contact was also a bit overwhelming to me. I think the biggest thing I had to work through was staying on task and not switching subjects to avoid my PTSD issues. And breathing. The weekend was exactly as the name of the of the non profit suggests-vets returning home-to their hearts. I am grateful to have attended and I know I have some more healing to do. It was amazing to watch many hardened vets let go and take off their masks. I was very appreciative of the free weekend.
I never thought of myself as needing help because I thought I had conquered my issues. VJH allowed me to open myself to the
many buried emotions I had as the result of being the child of a vet with PTSD. This program is an invaluable asset to all who allow themselves the opportunity to participate. The camaraderie, the warm support and welcome experienced within the context of a safe and nourishing environment are just a few of the benefits of participation.
I am now a proud volunteer.
I have worked as a psychotherapist for 20+ years with Veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War and the current war. Vets Journey Home is an exceptional opportunity for Veterans to experience a true healing! I am the volunteer Site Coordinator for the Northwood's Vets Journey Home in May each year at the Camp Bird site in Crivitz WI. This weekend has truly been a gift and blessing to those who participate in the experience. We are truly gifted to have this national program available in our local area. Kudos to Patricia, Gene and the VJH board members!
My husband and I were both participants and then later were able to volunteer also. We were blessed with the opportunity to be in the first couples group. My husband had attended before, but both of us being able to go was fantastic. He still doesn't talk about "stuff" much, but we were both able to see some of what was happening to each of us without the assistance of Vets Journey home.
The excersizes organized by Sam and the rest of the coordinators of the program provide each individual the opportunity to come out of the shadows and fear. Even if it's just a step at a time. They provide a safe atmosphere and encourage trust. The participants are there for themselves and are not having to worry about anything else for a time. I would like to mention the food is pretty good too.
My husband was the original "victim" , but as his spouse I became another victim who suffered also. Thanks to Vets Journy Home I was able to find others to talk to and share concerns and fears. Until you experience the "aloneness" you may not realize how desperate you can become. Vets Journey Home was able to start us both on the road to recovery. I thank God this program has been able to expand and take in the secondary victims - spouses and family.
We need more programs like this. There are so many silently suffering from battles and thinking that there is nothing that can be done. Vets Journey Home is a Godsend. They don't promise miracles, but miracles do happen thanks to that program. Thank you all for your help and support.
I was a participant and I've also volunteered and staffed a weekend. I personally started the healing of emotional wounds I've carried for over 20 years, and have witnessed others do the same thing with emotional trauma's they've carried even longer than I have. It's not magic, but it's definiately a life changing experiance, and I recomend this to anyone who spent any time in the military.
I have staffed Vet's Journey Home several times. I am a civilian with a family member currently serving in the Middle East. In addition to the remarkable healing I have witnessed among the Vets in this program, I also experienced deep healing from the emotional trauma of my own experiences watching my friends who went to serve in Viet Nam and how they were changed while I stayed here "safe and sound". This program is a powerful service to the Veterans who have served our country. We owe them so much for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make for all of us.
Over the past 10 years I staffed 20 of these trainings. The men and women come from the best place for the vets; they come from the heart. Over those years I have been mentored and challenged to step up beyond what I thought I could do. I am a leader in my family and my community. MAny thanks
My experience with Vets Journey Home has changed my life and that of my family in an amazingly positive way. I returned from Iraq after a 16 month deployment and thought I would just move right back into my "normal" life as a husband and father. Five years later I woke up one morning and did not recognize the man that was looking at me in the mirror. There were problems in my family because of how I had changed. It was that day I decided I needed some type of help. After participating in the VJH course, I began to move towards a more positive lifestyle. VJH not only gave me hope of a more fulfilled life, it gave me the tools and support to cope with issues that I had bottled up for such a long time. Every day I wake up a happier man. My wife and two daughters are much happier now that they have their "old Larry"" back. Thank you Vets Journey Home for making it possible for me to heal my heart and begin anew!
Sincerely, Larry Flaskrud - US Army 14 years of service, WI
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!