The George W. Bush Institute Summit explores best practices of NGOs seeking to help transitioning veterans:
Today more than 45,000 Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)serve U.S. military veterans and their families. Some of these non-profits have long traditions of caring for members of the military, while others are just getting started. Nonprofits serving Veterans for wellness, employment, families, education, women and housing exceed 9000. The Institute unveiled its new report that highlighted findings from an in-depth study of leading service-delivery organizations. The report revealed best practices that will help other nonprofits focus on needed services that create real impact for Veterans. The Summit follows the recent push by the Joint Chiefs of Staff , through their Office of Reintegration, to consistently foster new conversations among NGOs and connect Veterans with their communities.
The Summit brought together NGO practitioners, academics, and government transition service providers. Former President Bush began the discussions off by interviewing General Peter Chiarelli, USA, (Ret.), Chief Executive Officer, One Mind for Research, Marine Corps Veteran Brian Stann, Chief Executive Officer, Hire Heroes USA and Marine Corps Veteran David J. Smith, Team-43 Warrior.
General Chiarella made a strong statement supporting Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) but also pointed out that these individuals represent about 8% of the 2.7 million trauma cases in the country. He stressed that TBI is not just a Veteran problem; it’s an American problem. He also said we needs to take away barriers that delay and degrade Veteran TBI healing process such as inconsistent prescription polices between the VA and Department of Defense medical support programs.
A strong and brave presentation was made by Marine Corps Veteran David J. Smith. He punctuated the first session by his sharing his own story of transition to college, despair and finally to his own realization that he needed to take responsibly by asking and finding help. His recovery came from listening and then acting to love life again.. He strongly pointed out that we need many more Veterans who have experienced PTSD to speak out to lessen the perceived stigma and the unintended peer pressure of military culture that hides PTSD. Former Sargent Smith has been standing up around the world and helping veterans find solutions. When asked by former President Bush how he managing to help so many other Veterans from far away, he related that technology today allows for accelerated referral s to VA Vet Centers and/or other Veteran organizations who will drop everything their doing immediately to help. But he said that the Veteran taking responsibility is the key to recovery. Mr. Bush dubbed him a “One Man NGO” and voiced approval of his model. Many One Man NGOs using a peer-to-peer approach is a great way to make things better one Veteran at a time!
For more information on the Summit go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fRTGooOTME
To access the Institutes’ “Serving Our Post -9/11 Veterans” Report go to http://www.bushcenter.org/sites/default/files/gwbi-msi-serving-our-vets.pdf