Dear Friends of the National Center for Healthy Veterans (NCHV) at Valor Farm,
September has been Suicide Prevention Month. In essence this is what we at NCHV do every day. This is the key reason for our intentional design keyed to suicide prevention and restoration: community living to defeat isolation, dignified work to restore purpose and self-esteem, faith-based trauma recovery and life skills programs, and our Valor Farm natural healing platform including equine therapy. This holistic integration of proven best practices is saving lives, reducing homelessness, and putting Healthy Veterans back on America’s streets.
Kevin walked down the dusty Valor Farm Road, took a seat, and proclaimed “Four of my buddies from Afghanistan have killed themselves this past month and I think I’m next.” Thus began his journey through the intentional NCHV Patriot program, moving from desperate to hopeful, from wayward to purposeful, from lost to found. Now he lives in New Hampshire, has a wonderful fiancée, grows his welding business, and stays in community with his NCHV family. Now that’s a win! That’s why we do what we do!
We are also encouraged by our recent Suicide Prevention grant from the State of Virginia. Similarly, we are encouraged by a number of private and public organization’s progress on the Suicide Prevention front such as the American Legion’s Be the One mission, USAA’s Face The Fight, and the Avalon Alliance Network. While many organizations are fighting the good fight, I refer you to Diving Deeper for the darker side of the coin related to the persistent prevalence of Veteran suicides.
Sometimes we are the first recourse for those trying to “get unstuck” from the challenges of trauma or transition, providing them with a “life reset” that benefits them for years to come. Other times we are the last straw for those whose “hope rope” has grown to a thin thread, for those whose last recourse is suicide. The reality is that every day of the year is a Suicide Prevention Day for NCHV. This is why we exist.
NCHV Staff, Volunteers, and Patriots are sponsoring and participating in Lynchburg’s annual “Out of the Darkness” suicide prevention walk on October 5th. If you are local, please join us!
Every day we are in a battle for the lives of our Nation’s Veterans. We need and value your continued encouragement, prayers, Veteran referrals, and tangible support to keep us in this fight!
Enough for now, Friends. I refer you to the many highlights below this introduction which illustrate the life-changing programs and progress underway at Valor Farm.
Plays of the Day
- Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) – NCHV partnered with the Veterans Service Alliance (VSA) to support CBN’s “Helping the Homefront” resilience conference in Virginia Beach, VA. Brenda Swartz and Bob Dees both provided multiple seminars, and Bob provided the first keynote entitled, “How to Build A Lifetime of Resilience.” Kathy Bennett assisted with the NCHV resource table. This is a great example of the power of partnering with like-minded and complementary organizations.
- New Paths in the Forest – Farming manager Zac Farrell carved several miles of paths through Valor Farm forests, creating very special avenues through God’s Creation and providing new options for therapy and recreation on the Valor Farm healing platform.
- Colt Starting Demo – Our first-ever Valor Farm Colt Starting Demonstration was a great success! It was such a joy to see our Valor Farm ranch foreman, Jake Corwin, demonstrate how to transform Mr. Darcy (a 2-year-old Thoroughbred from Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue) from an untrained colt to a young saddle horse. We are proud to partner with Hope’s Legacy because adding value and purpose to these rescued horses parallels our own mission to restore value and purpose to our Patriots. Be on the lookout for similar events in the future!
- Volunteer Appreciation – We held our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at the Seneca Lake Venue, celebrating the selfless service of our volunteers in the last year. The 12 standout volunteers we recognized this year were Lyndia Goodwin, Ann Kostal, Ann Short, Keith O’Connell, Tom Illingworth, Jim Tennant, Warren Simmons, Danny Coffman, Pamela Board, Mark Myers, Carter Lowry, and Rob Bozio. We appreciate all of our volunteers and could not continue to operate without them.
- House Dedication – We were humbled and inspired to dedicate house 67 in honor of Retired Army Colonel Terry and wife Audrey Wallace. They have more than 60 years of loving service to Army soldiers, their families, and our nation. Company E-1 (including Bob Dees), West Point Class of ’72, dedicated the house in special honor and recognition of their tactical officer Terry and his wife Audrey, fitting role models for all of us.
Meet The Team
The farm has been very therapeutic for both, as Larry is a cancer survivor and they consider it a continued learning/rewarding experience working and interfacing with the veterans and other volunteers towards the farm’s mission.
“22” per day!
Is that the real number? The Department of Veterans Affairs says the number is now under 18. At the other end of the spectrum, from the Stars & Stripes, “An exhaustive study four years in the making has found nearly a 40% higher rate of veteran suicides than that reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs.” This latter study pegs the suicide rate as high as 44 per day.
Whether 18 or 22 or 44, the number is tragically high. This should not be happening in America!
Now combine this Veteran tragedy of suicide with the ongoing fentanyl and national opioid abuse epidemic which robs even more Veterans from a life of continuing service to the nation.
What’s the point? The epidemic of Veteran suicide and other Veteran mental and behavioral health challenges is a national crisis — threatening Veteran lives, lowering motivation to join the military, and constituting a blight on our national tapestry.
NCHV is laser-focused on upstream prevention, crisis intervention, and downstream restoration for our nation’s Veterans and their families. Our holistic components and nine-month residential program are uniquely designed to fight the recidivism which plagues many shorter-term and less comprehensive efforts. We will continue to press this fight and partner with other like-minded and complementary programs. As well, we will continue our efforts to mobilize communities, corporations, campuses, and churches to truly be part of the solution. So help us, God!
For additional detail, the Stripes article further relates, “The study’s interim report, based on service records from the Defense Department and death records from eight states, examined suicides and “self-injury mortality” — or deaths classified as accidental or undetermined — in people aged 18 to 64 from 2014 to 2018. America’s Warrior Partnership, a suicide prevention group, contracted with the University of Alabama and partnered with Duke University to gather state-provided death data and coordinate with the DOD to corroborate military affiliation. It was funded by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.”
“The study identified a 37% greater suicide rate than reported by the VA. That was because “Operation Deep Dive,” as the study is called, worked to get specificity of the decedent’s demographics, military experience, and death details. The VA, by contrast, gets its suicide numbers reported by the county authorities where the death occurred. The study found that the method failed to identify veterans about 18% of the time.
The states that provided death information for the study were Alabama, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Oregon. If the eight states represented a national rate, study authors said, approximately 24 veterans die each day by suicide, as determined by a coroner or medical examiner, compared to the VA’s average of 17.7 veteran suicides per day.
In addition, some 20 former service members die each day by self-injury mortality — listed as accidents or an undetermined cause of death. More than 80% of those were overdose deaths…”
Given that many of these self-injury deaths are also likely suicides, the cumulative of veteran suicides per day is as high as 44.
In The Media
- We are grateful for the new Patriot who has joined us this month. Join us in prayer for his growth and future success.
- Without mentioning specifics, pray for the many Veterans and their families in our midst who have financial issues, health crises, relational dysfunction, and suffer from mental and emotional challenges. May God bring wellness to Veterans throughout the land.
- Join us in praising God for the beauty of His Creation at Valor Farm — horses, rivers, cattle, valleys, chickens, the fruit of the land, the beauty of the fields, the wonder of His Creation.
- Join us in praising God for the amazing Army of NCHV volunteers, a multitude of generous supporters, and faithful staff.
- Pray that God would steady the hand of the 22 Veterans a day that are considering ending their lives.
- Pray that God will provide laborers and resources to “Return Healthy Veterans to America,” and may these Healthy Veterans provide unique contributions to America as role models, parents, educators, coaches, business professionals, and societal role models.
- Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. Scheduled Tours
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
- Thursdays: Community Campfire at Valor Farm 6pm
Come join us for fellowship!
- Saturdays: Volunteer Saturdays
- Saturday, October 7, 2023 Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention
- Saturday, October 14, 2023 Lynchburg Area Veteran Council (LAVC) Tree Dedication for Lynchburg Fallen