The invisible wounds of war are many and run deep. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the subsequent attacks against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, are resulting in injuries that are currently disabling for many, and potentially disabling for still more. They are also putting unprecedented strain on families and relationships, which can contribute to the severity of the Service Member’s disability over the course of time.
It is well-known that, despite the sacrifices Veterans and their families have made in service to our nation, the mental health services provided to them by the Veterans Health Administration (VA) and civilian providers are often inaccessible or inadequate to meet the critical mental health needs that have emerged in recent years. As a result, Camaraderie’s Community and Military (CAM) Program was established in 2009.
CAM’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Post-9/11 Veterans and their families by focusing on improving mental health outcomes, especially Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury, Military Sexual Trauma, as well as suicidal ideations, substance abuse, social withdrawal and other painful symptoms during reintegration post-deployment. Family members are wounded as well, also seen with anger, alcoholism, anxiety, as well as secondary PTS and suicidal feelings. Children not only suffer these effects, but also increased episodes of acting out and poor academic performance.
Our goal is to close the gap between our Military families and the services we provide. We will move closer to this goal by expanding our counseling and support services to increase the number of Veterans and their family members we serve. All of the programs offered by Camaraderie Foundation directly contribute to its overall mission to “provide healing for the invisible wounds of war through counseling, emotional and spiritual support for all branches of Military Service members, Veterans and their families.”
Our programs were designed, and are a direct result of an engaged and responsive community effort in support of Military families and their critical need to heal the invisible wounds of war and to overcome the struggles of transitioning into their civilian life:
– Counseling Program: Private counseling scholarships for the whole family along with case management support services to assist in the transition home and the readjustment from the battlefield; counseling services are available as individual, couples and family interventions;
– Family Engagement: Family Fun Days provide families the opportunity to connect with each other;
– Emotional Support: Through spousal activities, community connections, and case management support, the emotional needs of individuals and families are addressed; and
– Leadership Development: Through a Mentor Leadership Program, transitioning Veterans are paired with two mentors who have prior Military experience that have gone on to become strong business leaders in Central Florida.
The impact of Camaraderie’s eight years of providing healing for invisible wounds of war is beyond calculation. The work of Camaraderie and its CAM programs has immeasurably improved the lives of literally hundreds of Service Members and their families struggling with the effects of war, multiple deployments, and reintegration challenges.
But the War on Terrorism is far from over. Each day, more families are coping with the burden of combat deployments. Thousands of Military families are still falling through the cracks of government. Camaraderie Foundation, through its programs and services, has accepted the challenge and is here to help. By ensuring our Service Members and their families can succeed in life post-deployment, we will have done no more than our moral duty. To learn more about Camaraderie Foundation, visit www.camaraderiefoundation.org.