–submitted by Donna Hurd; photo by Pete Christianson
After recognizing and showing appreciation for all Rotarians and guests who have provided military service to our country, fellow Rotarian Will Beiersdorf provided a brief but comprehensive overview of an organization that provides holistic support and care for those service men and women who have returned home with physical and often, severe invisible wounds of war.
With first-hand knowledge of the stress of deployment, Will was called into active duty after the events of September 11, 2001, leaving his wife and three young children behind. Since that time, 800,000 service men and women have been deployed multiple times. This was almost unheard of prior to that date. The toll of numerous deployments affects not only the servicemen and women but also their families. The services available for many who have served are often inadequate and in all cases, only treat the wounded, leaving their families to seek help from other providers or caregivers. Two million children and parents sought mental and behavioral healthcare since 2001. One-third of the men and women returning from war suffer some type of trauma. Approximately 400,000 have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Besides the wounds suffered, approximately 22 veterans end their life every day, leaving family members to carry on.
In March 2013, Will was invited to assist with the formation of the Road Home Center for Veterans and their families. Since that time, the organization has seen 400 – 500 veterans and their families each year. They remove all barriers to receiving the needed services. The organization’s mission is, “Help heal the invisible Wounds of War.” They accomplish this by going beyond the level of care expected and needed. The continuum of care provided by the Road Home Program incorporates clinical care, counseling, outreach services, and education. The program employs Outreach Managers who have experienced the trauma of war, either directly or indirectly and can tell the story of why their services and this program are so needed.
Service Above Self, not only exemplifies Rotarians but also the brave men and women who choose to serve to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. The bottom line of this program’s existence is, “We owe it to them to give back and help.”