The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is launching a new nationwide campaign to focus on mental wellness within the military and veterans’ communities. Joined by three high-profile national partners, Give an Hour, One Mind, and PatientsLikeMe, the campaign kicks off during a joint press event inside the National Press Club’s Lisagor Room at 2 p.m., Tuesday.
The VFW Mental Wellness Campaign, commissioned by VFW National Commander Brian Duffy and VFW Auxiliary National President Colette Bishop, leverages the power, influence and reach of nearly 1.7 million members in more than 6,600 VFW Posts around the world with the nation’s leaders in mental health care, research, and peer-to-peer support. The campaign’s goal is to raise awareness, foster community engagement, improve research, and provide intervention for veterans, service members, and their loved ones who may be suffering from invisible injuries or emotional stress.
“We are proud to be joined by the nation’s leading mental health organizations to help change the veteran’s narrative — the veteran’s brand — which right now has America regarding us more as individual heroes instead of strategic assets in every community,” said Duffy, who is the first Operation Desert Storm veteran to lead the 117-year-old VFW.
Bishop, who leads the 102-year-old VFW Auxiliary, echoed the VFW national commander’s sentiment, and said “the community is where our troops come from and where our veterans return, so it benefits everyone to know what resources are available and where to turn to for help.”
The VFW is already working closely with Give an Hour to train VFW-accredited service officers and state leadership to “Know the Five Signs” of emotional suffering as a way to better serve clients coping with invisible injuries, and to help change the narrative on mental health in America through its Change Direction campaign.
Give an Hour Founder and President Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen said, “We are honored to join the VFW in this historic effort. VFW Posts can serve as important anchors in communities across the country – and around the world – to engage, educate and inspire veterans from all eras to learn the Five Signs and to reach out to those who are suffering." Dr. Van Dahlen added, "Our veterans are assets in our communities and they can help lead the way as we change the culture so that those in need receive the care and support they deserve.”
In addition to the upcoming press event, the VFW and Give an Hour are hosting a “Day to Change Direction” on Saturday, Oct. 8. Individual VFW Posts and state departments will work hand-in-hand with Give an Hour’s nationwide network of mental health providers and volunteers, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, to help facilitate peer-to-peer discussions on mental wellness, as well as participate in a community action or event designed to empower Americans to “Change Direction” on mental health and well-being.
Read the full press release at www.vfw.org