Welcome Home Vets
What is your mission statement?
Welcome Home Vets provides mental health services and advocacy for veterans and their family members. We also promote community awareness of problems encountered by veterans and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on the individual, the family and the community.
What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?
Our yearly budget is approximately $200,000. We are an all-volunteer organization; there are no paid employees.
What is your nonprofit’s history?
Welcome Home Vets is the brainchild of therapists Page Brown, Psy.D., and Mark Thielen, MFT. The organization was founded in 2009 because the Department of Veterans’ Affairs stopped providing for ongoing psychotherapy for combat veterans in the Grass Valley/Nevada City area. Some funding was secured through the Mental Health Services Act, administered by Nevada County Behavioral Health, and a grant secured from Sierra Health Foundation. We soon realized that, in addition to treatment for veterans, family members were in need of support and treatment, and a contract was developed with Behavioral Health through MHSA Innovation funding to research and implement a treatment program for those family members. The resulting Family Wellness Program was initiated in October 2012, following intensive research and focus groups. On July 15, 2012, WHV rented office and program space in the Lola Montez house, and services were expanded to include referral services, educational groups and group therapy for family members.
Who is your primary audience?
Our primary audience is those who experienced psychological trauma as a result of service in the United States military and their families, as well as the residents of the communities in which they live.
Those who have served in the military at any time, regardless of combat status, and their family members. Since 2010, we have served more than 80 clients.
List the biggest achievements in your nonprofit’s history.
Our biggest achievement has been to establish a supportive relationship with Nevada County Behavioral Health. The department and its director, Michael Heggarty, have recognized the need for treating veterans in the community and have provided baseline funding for this program. Another achievement is the implementation of our Family Wellness Program. We are providing a series of educational seminars for vets and family members that establishes understanding about psychotherapy. These classes are also open to the public. Feedback from family members has been very positive, and the veterans are showing more rapid improvement when their family is involved in treatment. Another achievement was creating an office that provides space for our educational and group therapy programming. We are fortunate to be located in the Lola Montez house and to be supported in our mission by Emmanuel Episcopal Church, from whom we rent the facility.
List the biggest challenges you face.
Our primary challenge is securing ongoing funding for continued and expanded operations. NCBH provides most of our funding at this time, and we are seeking additional grant funding. However, sustaining services requires community support through donations and support of our fundraising activities. The next biggest challenge is reaching out to veterans of the recent and current conflicts in the Middle East. These men and women are coming home with a high rate of PTSD and other psychological issues but are not seeking treatment at a commensurate rate. If we can reach them, we can prevent them from experiencing the years of personal hell that have been endured by many of our Vietnam vets. The third challenge is a subset of the second: reaching out particularly to women veterans of the current conflicts. Although they are often subject to most of the same stresses as their male counterparts, they are statistically even less likely to seek treatment.
What is your No. 1 short-term goal for the next year?
Our primary short-term goal for the next year is to achieve financial sustainability at our current level of operation. This means having sufficient funding to pay the rent and utilities while continuing to serve those currently in treatment as well as any veterans and family members who seek treatment.
What is your No. 1 long-term goal for the next three years?
The primary long-term goal for the next three years is to expand the base of veterans and family members for whom we provide treatment. This means, in addition to attracting combat veterans who need treatment, both male and female, attracting those who have non-combat-related psychological problems incurred during military service. Non-combat trauma includes such things as accidents and military sexual trauma, which may result in psychological responses that can be devastating.
What are your major fundraisers and dates?
Our major fundraiser is the annual motorcycle run and barbecue. Our fourth annual Bike Run and BBQ is Aug. 24. The run leaves from Auburn C&E V-Twin and ends at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.
Our other fundraiser is at the Northridge Restaurant in Nevada City May 20. WHV will receive a portion of all sales that evening.
Finally, we are planning a May 27 open house with refreshments and a book signing by Kurt Chismark, a local Vietnam veteran who has recorded his war experiences in his recently released book, “An Honorable Illusion.”
What is the best way a person interested in your organization could help?
That would be through donations, large and small. We are also looking for volunteers with expertise in fundraising, outreach and administrative operations.
Welcome Home Vets is a member of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which provides the weekly Know Your Nonprofit feature. You can learn more about The Center for Nonprofit Leadership online at http://CNLSierra.org. The Center is on Facebook http://facebook.com/NevadaCountyNonProfitLeadership and Twitter @NevCoNonprofits.
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