Friday, January 16, 2015

A Veteran Writes to GallantFew

I'll never forget the call I received from X last summer.  I found myself listening to a veteran very depressed and scared about the thoughts running through his head.  I vividly him telling me "but they told me I was broken" (meaning the Med Board review).  I challenged him that the only person who could tell you that you were broken was you - and that wasn't acceptable.  Why let some outside person or organization tell you what you are or what you aren't?  That laid the groundwork for a lot of change.  I also learned a lot from X - lessons in courage, persistence and willingness to ask for help - which in itself requires overcoming training that teaches you to suck it up. km

X writes:

"I have tried multiple service organizations, namely the VA and a variety of vet service centers, in a futile attempt to reintegrate into society. It was predominantly due to the inundated and fractured care that the Veterans Administration provides. This lack of infrastructure leads to War Fighters, such as myself, being left in the voids of society; becoming shut ins, often ignored and isolated, which in a lot of cases contributes to soldier suicide.

I would like to share I am an OIF/OEF Combat Army Veteran suffering from severe PTSD, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), bi-lateral hip fractures, spinal fractures, left arm, hand, leg, knee, and both ankle injuries and a stab wound to the chest.

I had the Honor and privilege of deploying in the initial invasion of Iraq assigned to a joint special task force. I am also a product of California’s foster care system; a blueprint on what not to do to a child. Given my origin, I had baggage going into the service, but during my tour I experienced things that would blacken the heart of any normal human being and nearly cost me my life and it has been eating away at every facet of my life.

I was physically injured during service to my country, I was also emotionally shattered; transitioning to civilian life a constant challenge. I have had some success with equine therapy, the most successful treatment I had been through before the Serenity Trauma Healing Center program. The unique resources offered by GallantFew are like none other that I have ever had the privilege or access to in the past.

Although, a recipient of multiple combat awards, including, two medals of Valor and being honorably discharged; after leaving active duty and while negotiating the VA system, I believed that I was "broken", as my Med-Board review stated. As a soldier, I have continued to work towards a “normal” civilian life, the emotional scars and pain, making it feel impossible. The constant negative self-dialogue and anger, and if I am honest, fear, left me with little hope for the future. GallantFew's devotion and dedication and commitment to excellence has been a key contributor to my healing process; allowing me to be a better parent, better friend, better mate, and better man.

The visceral amount of fear and vulnerability and no sense of purpose had nearly extinguished any drive I might have to get better and then I was introduced to GallantFew and the special services they provide for authenticated combat veterans has been invaluable and irreplaceable.

Karl Monger and GallantFew consistently reminded me about the Warrior's Ethos, which is to never quit, regardless to the circumstances I am facing. He encouraged me to think of my children in my darkest times and he motivated me to continue to engage with the issues that were causing me to seclude myself from life, from others, from my family.

The physical and emotional pain I have been living with since my return from service is overwhelming and at times there seems like no better choice other than giving up on life, figuratively and literally. I, personally, have known fellow war fighters who have committed suicide. GallantFew provided unwavering resources and support. Experiencing the loss of my best friend to suicide was a crushing blow. If he had access to organizations like GallantFew, I will maintain that with the support of such an organization, the outcome could have been different.

Similar to veteran soldiers, active duty soldiers, are falling to suicide at a rate of almost one soldier per day. The solutions offered by the government has not proven successful. In fact, it has proven to be detrimental, because other therapies are not readily known about or explored. Just giving us drugs to numb the pain and dull the senses is not the right answer.

Every soldier has his/her own story. I am sharing mine, because I want you to know the impact GallantFew has had on me."


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 A Banner Year for Post 9/11 Veterans?

According to the Air Force Times, 2014 was a "historic" year for post 9/11 veteran employment.  The headline boldly proclaims

"2014: A banner year for post-9/11 vet employment"

The overall employment picture is indeed improving, but I have an issue with the rosy picture presented.

I've been tracking and charting veteran unemployment since January 2011.  It clearly and consistently trends along with the US national unemployment rate, except for these pesky facts:

  • A post 9/11 veteran is about 35% more likely to be unemployed that a non-veteran.
  • A post 9/11 veteran is 58% more likely to be unemployed than a Desert Storm era veteran.

Painting a rosy picture causes the general public (which is already disengaged) to think that veteran unemployment is not an issue -- when it really is.

A four year look at the unemployment trendlines, comparing non-veterans with all veterans, post 9/11 veterans, and Desert Storm era veterans.

A look at the unemployment numbers for the past twelve months.

So what to do about it?

GallantFew believes the answer lies in communities taking responsibility for helping veterans transition home.  

Does your community have a veteran section on its website?  Does it have a welcome home picnic/social/potluck quarterly?  Is there an effort to connect new veterans with veterans in the community who have already successfully transitioned?  How about a written plan?

Learn more:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Veterans with a severe service-connected disability and limited mobility - important announcement from the VA

Are you a Veteran with a severe service-connected disability that affects your mobility?  Do you know someone who is?  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the Specially Adapted Housing program, designed to help severely disabled Veterans and Servicemembers purchase or construct an adapted home, or modify an existing home to accommodate a disability.  Two grant programs exist: the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.

We want to ensure anyone who might qualify knows about this program.

The SAH grant is designed to help disabled Veterans and Servicemembers by providing a barrier-free living environment, such as a wheelchair accessible home, that affords Veterans a level of independent living they may not otherwise enjoy. Veterans and Servicemembers with specific service-connected disabilities (including loss/loss of use of both lower extremities) may be entitled to a grant for the purpose of constructing or modifying a home to meet their adaptive needs, up to the current maximum of $70,465.

The SHA grant can be used to increase the mobility of eligible Veteran and Servicemembers throughout their residences. Veterans and Servicemembers with specific service-connected disabilities (including severe visual impairment or loss/loss of use of both hands) may be entitled to this type of grant, up to the current maximum of $14,093.

For those who do not yet own a home, a temporary grant may be available to SAH/SHA eligible Veterans and Servicemembers who are or will be temporarily residing in a home owned by a family member. The maximum amount available to adapt a family member’s home for the SAH grant is $30,934 and for the SHA grant is $5,523.

VA has staff located nationwide to assist individuals in applying for and receiving these grants.  You can find more detailed information about qualifying disabilities here:, and you can find contact information for an SAH Agent in your area here:

Each Veteran’s housing/living needs are as unique as their physical disabilities.  The Specially Adapted Housing program provides hands-on, personalized, customized service to severely disabled Veterans seeking home adaptations.

Other quick reference information can be found on our SAH graphic at:  Please feel free to use this in your newsletters, community spaces or publications.

If you have any questions, please email


Curtis L. Coy
Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity
Veterans Benefits Administration
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Discharge Upgrades and PTSD

Recently published, this needs to get widest dissemination.  I speak with veterans often who received other than honorable (OTH) discharges, many with drug-related offenses that are easily tied to Post Traumatic Stress symptoms.

If you received an OTH, check this out.

From the Army Review Boards Agency website:

On September 3, 2014, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum providing guidance to the Military Department Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records (BCM/NR) as they carefully consider each and every petition brought regarding under other than honorable conditions discharge upgrade requests by veterans claiming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This includes a comprehensive review of all materials and evidence provided by the applicant.  Read more...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why Can't I Find GallantFew on Charity Navigator? and other questions.

Happy New Year!

Run Ranger Run is amping up, and with new participants come some new questions.  I am very glad that people are asking these questions, and far too many donate to nonprofits without investigating what they do with the funds.

Here are some of the questions:

Q:  How does GallantFew rate on Charity Navigator?  I can't find anything about your organization.

A:  GallantFew isn't large enough for Charity Navigator to evaluate us.  This quote is from the Charity Navigator website:

"Sources of Revenue:  Because our goal is to help individual givers, we evaluate only those charities that depend on support from individual givers. Specifically, we require public support to be more than $500,000 and total revenue more than $1,000,000 in the most recent fiscal year. And we do not review charities that receive most of their funding from government grants, or from the fees they charge for their programs and services.
Length of Operations: We require 7 years of Forms 990 to complete an evaluation."
In 2013, GallantFew raised less than $200,000 and in 2014 less than $250,000 so we are about a fourth of the minimum required.  Also 2015 marks our fifth year in operation, and will be the fourth year we file a 990 (the first year our revenue was so small we met the postcard requirement).  So it will be three years before we've been around long enough to make their site.

Q:  Where does the money go?  What's your percent of overhead?

A:  GallantFew's Executive Director is paid a salary of $50,000 per year.  The other two full timers are paid less than that.  The only overhead expenses are those items not tied directly to providing veteran services, and in 2013 that was 3% - leaving 97% to go towards mission.  We have been very cautious about expenditures, because we are very new and Run Ranger Run is in its third year - so we've saved $100,000 to ensure we can operate unimpeded.  Our plan is for RRR to do as well or better than last year, which means we will expand our capacity (meaning hiring) to cover the ever-increasing volume of veterans seeking assistance.

There is detailed information on the GallantFew website:  Five years of performance and all our financial reports.  Please share them.

Please feel free to email Karl with any other questions you might have, and thank you for your support.