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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Vets Journey Home USA, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: To serve those who served our country, by offering this compassionate and welcoming retreat, where any story is heard without judgment and hearts are healed

Results: VJH USA is newly formed, although the work has been going on since 1989. Hundreds of vets have experienced emotional healing through Vets Journey Home since its inception.

Target demographics: All military veterans

Direct beneficiaries per year: dozens of Veterans

Geographic areas served: USA

Programs: free weekend retreats to heal emotional wounds and trauma.

Community Stories

18 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was invited to a VJH weekend by a Friend who had also attended. I was dealing with grief and anger from the loss of my son several years earlier. I had tried different sources for grief support and therapy but I was still angry and hurting. Upon arriving that weekend, there was only one other male participant who was to be my room-mate. When I turned to greet him, it was if the years slipped away. He was a shipmate that served with me on the same Submarine 33 years earlier. Not only was he a shipmate, but a friend that I would actually socialize with and get closet to. It really helped to make the weekend special. On dealing with my BOULDER or BLOCK as they may call it, I was also blessed to have a certified grief counselor on staff that weekend. They helped me to see I could still converse with my son, and that I could talk with him anytime. They helped me to let out the tears I was also afraid to show in front of my wife, and to see my feelings were normal and important to talk about in dealing with my son. It was a true healing weekend and I am forever grateful to have experienced what Vets Journey Home does for Veterans.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 4

I went to the VJH weekend not knowing what to expect, hoping to deal with issues of anger and resentment. But finding out the my grief over losing my twenty-one year old son from an overdose of drugs was causing me more problems than I knew. Good and caring people helped bring me through some of the hardest parts of acceptance in this area.
One of the most amazing things was walking into the registration area and finding out that my room-mate for the weekend was also a Shipmate from my Navy days who I had not seen in 32 years! It was more than a coincidence, it was unbelievable. We were not just shipmates we were good friends too! So the re-connection was instant and although it brought back a ton of memories most of them were great and there was a good deal of healing on the weekend. I learned a number of things about my grief, I learned how to look at my relationship with my son in a different light. Just because he wasn't here in the physical sense didn't mean he didn't exist to me anymore. He lives on in my memories and in my heart forever. The staff was caring, competent and really interested in helping. I was asked to go into the weekend with an open mind, that's what I did. I didn't judge what may happen I just tried to allow it and see where it took me. I shared this all in excitement with my wife when I got home, and took it slow in explaining how to connect with our son in a different way. It was a great lesson that I am grateful for and I would love to experience this again to deal with other boulders or blocks that may hamper me from living my life to the fullest. Thank You Vets Journey Home. I appreciate what you do! - JD

Client Served

Rating: 5

This past weekend, I was given an extraordinary opportunity to heal and learn about my damage...yes, I healthily accept it as such, leaves room for growth. Vets Journey Home afforded me so very many things, most importantly there are actually 2 bullet points

Client Served

Rating: 5

Keep up the great work. This organization has helped me with understanding myself more.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

VJH is an awesome program that helped me get over a bridge that I thought was impossible to cross. I aM deeply thankful for the program and the continued support I receive from not only the program, but also from the other Vets that faced similar experices. I recommend VJH to any soldier or couples that are facing challenges after returning home from deployment or that have had any significant experience in the military that needs focus and healing.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've just completed the weekend of Vet's Journey Home in Wisconsin.
I had no idea what to expect from the werkend.
I learned of VJH by way of another non profit I'm pat of the past 9 years as of Nov '16.
This past weekend we were given the opportunity to write a farewell letter to a fellow service member who had 'fallen' in service.
Mine was mostly a peace time experience and I had not known a fellow fallen solder.

Immediately I realized I was the man that had not returned home.
My body is intact but my truest life ended 43 years ago. My letter was to myself and the life still back at tech school.
Mine is about MSA (military sexual assult aka MST or, military sexual trauma ).
My letter expressed the great loss I'd come to know after much counseling. My letter ended with me saying to mysrlf; I Cannot leave you at tech school...I Will find a way to bring you (me) home.
The VA offers many forms of treatment. One offering was medication. I've chosen other forms of treatment...inner personal healing work.
I CANNOT say enough or too much about my experience this past weekend with VJH.
I now know I have purpose...Purpose in helpng others toward their healing.
Please consider your own steps toward healing by looking at my invitation to take your Vets Journey Home weekend ecperience.
Be well.
JonnC .

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program far exceeded any expectations I might have had. The program is literally life changing. Stuck for years, I was thinking this was just how it was going to have to be--- no way out, no way around it. Suck it up. Live with. Why can't you just yourself?? Then I participated in a weekend program.... everything has changed. I mean everything.

1 quark12

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a Vietnam era veteran. As I didn't experience active combat I didn't think I had an issue with my service time. I was wrong. When I read the invitation to attend a weekend, I knew in my heart there was work to be done. The weekend healed some and pointed me in a direction to heal some more. Some of the additional pain was healed as a support member of the weekend team. I will be forever grateful to the Wisconsin VJH.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My intent, at first, was to help another Vietnam Veteran. After reading the cost, I tearfully realized it was my healing that was needed. Camp Bird is a closed campus which was essential for me, no escapes for 3 days, not need to escape. Civilian and Veteran supports were always there, always supportive.
I can't not volunteer after volunteering once. The process is heart opening and is not painless. The healing is opening up and moving through the scar tissue, much less painful than keeping the pain around by avoiding it.
Do what you can, nothing more. then help others, simple.

3 Jayson S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a vet who served in the 60s, and didn't find Vets Journey Home till the 90s, I thought I had dealt with any issues I had around my time in the military. I was very incorrect in that thought. At the VJH weekend I dealt with five major issues I was carrying around with me and minor ones also. I laid them down there with the help of other vets (staff and participants) and non vet volunteers and it changed my life. It continues to have a powerful positive force in my life and I give thanks to those who helped me through the weekend. I have great gratitude for the folks who continue to help vets on VJH weekends and gratitude for the opportunity to volunteer myself.

For me, "Volunteer" is a key word in describing the Vets Journey Home. The fact that numerous folks have chosen to take time from their lives (family, friends, leisure, hobbies, loved ones, etc.) to help veterans to get home fully, continues to fill me with hope and gratitude.

The miracles I have witnessed on VJH weekends will stay with me all my days.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

As Vietnam veteran attending Vet's Journey Home 20 years ago, I was initially guarded, but by the end I felt welcome, safe and finally home. It was the first time since I left the service that I slept without nightmares. It was the beginning of a new life for me without PTS.

Now I volunteer to staff these retreats to give back the love, acceptance, understanding, and support that I received. Every time I staff I heal even more, even as I help heal other veterans.

This program saves lives and families. I am living proof.
- Mitch Tyler

4 Gary62

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a MST (Military Sexual Trauma) Survivor, Complex PTSD and am a survivor of multiple Life Involved Traumas. I have been on a 30 year Suicide mission; until I met my therapist and went to one of the Retreats, which was hosted by Veterans Journey Home. My therapist and the VA had been trying to get me to agree to group counseling; and until I had experienced the program and processes presented by this Organization I had not a clue of what to expect.

During my weekend, in the retreat (which by the way was completely free of financial cost, or expectation of payment of any sort) my only expense was my time and emotional commitment to the process; which did not come easy. However, during the weekend I crossed so many "Milestones," that I could not even begin to describe.

For years I had not been able to sleep on an elevated surface (bed), or in a room with other people; with the events of the first night and the care, love, compassion, and support of the staff and Instructors, I was able to settle in and found the first night of uninterrupted and uneventful rest/sleep; that I have not had since childhood.

The efforts of everyone and care I received in that retreat in February at the Big Bear, Ca. site, was so attentive and full of support that myself and others who participated in that retreat, formed a bond between all of the participants, staff members and Instructors that I would have never thought was possible between myself and anyone else.

I had no idea of what to expect while I was Enroute to the retreat site. Talking to the person who picked me up, I was told that he was not even going to discuss what the retreat was about or what goes on at the retreat. He explained that it is different for everyone and that everyone gets something unique and different from the experience.

He could not have been more on target with his description; and I will forever be in his debt for his honesty.

When I returned from my weekend with Vet's Journey Home, Everyone around me not iced a huge difference in me; including my therapist was not a VA Provider. She mentioned several times that her job had been made somewhat easier, with the milestones and barriers that the retreat helped me get through.

Since February 2015, The results of my time at the retreat had somewhat came to be recognized not only by people around me, but also by myself. The retreat and the efforts of my Therapist in conjunction with the retreat has unlocked so many facets of my life, and my life has become more fulfilled and manageable that I don't believe that this site would have enough band-width to support the documentation, or recounting of.

All I know is that giving credit to my therapist, I must also give credit to Veterans Journey Home, it's staff, it's Instructors, and it' s processes have literally saved my life. Prior to seeking out and accepting this Organizations assistance, I was begging on a daily basis to stop living. Now, I am finding times that I am celebrating life again. (something else I have not experienced since childhood.)

Thanks Vet's Journey Home!

Love You!

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program has helped me a lot with my post deployment issues and post military life. I cannot stress how much this has helped me. So much so, that I have stepped up to be on staff to help other veterans.

1 Peary

Client Served

Rating: 5

Vets Journey Home is a super organization! At no charge to veterans, they provide a 3 day intensive therapy to get us back on the road to wholeness. It is life changing and I know of no other opportunity like it.

2 Marialyce D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

2 Nancy T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

2 Jamie H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.