The Journey Home Project Donates $50k To Fuel Shepherd's Men Runners' Trek From Boston To Atlanta; Every Step Combats PTSD
14 men running 22 kilometers per day through 10 cities to raise funds for the SHARE Military Initiative make their way through Nashville
On March 26, 2016, Shepherd's Men began a 1,400-mile run from Boston to Atlanta through 10 cities to benefit the SHARE Military Initiative at Atlanta's Shepherd Center and raise awareness of the suicide epidemic plaguing veterans of the U.S. armed forces. They made their way through Nashville Thursday, stopping for a bite to eat at The Palm restaurant on 5th Avenue, treat of country music star Charlie Daniels and his co-founded military non-profit The Journey Home Project, which also presented them with a $50,000 check donation. Daniels and The Journey Home Project board of David Corlew, Mercedez Longever, Joe Longever and Ed Hardy, hope to put a little spring in their steps and get them closer to their $1 million fundraising goal to combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other traumatic brain injuries among U.S. military members and veterans.
"The Journey Home Project was founded in 2014 for the sole purpose of helping those organizations that do the most good in helping our veterans and military members in need," said Corlew. "The Atlanta Shepherd Center is one of those worthy organizations, and what the Shepherd's Men are doing is just so unbelievable and inspiring. They're making an incredible sacrifice for those who sacrificed it all."
Funds raised through Charlie Daniels' 40th Anniversary Volunteer Jam at Bridgestone Arena on August 12, 2015 contributed to The Journey Home Project's donation. The event was just one of the many ways the organization has raised funds in order to support veterans in the local community and beyond with hundreds of thousands of dollars to meet healthcare, education and employment needs. In September 2015, the Project donated $50,000 to aid in the completion of a new state-of-the-art Veterans and Military Families Center at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) which encourages the success of student veterans as they transition out of uniform and into academics.
Travis Ellis, civilian founder of Shepherd's Men says the initiative plans to raise one million dollars to benefit the SHARE Military Initiative this year. "The men and women returning from today's conflicts volunteered for our country, for all of us, and they return with battle scars that need our help to heal. Too many are pushed to the margins and take their own lives while the rest of us enjoy the freedom for which these veterans fought. The physical challenge of our run is nothing compared to the challenges faced by our veterans," Ellis said.
Shepherd's Men is a fundraising group comprised of 14 men who are making the run together, with the Army, Marine Corps and civilian population represented in their numbers. Each member of the group is completing the journey wearing a flak vest with 22 pounds of added weight and running at least 22 kilometers per day. The number 22 is symbolic and represents the average number of suicides that occur among United States veterans each day.
The group raises funds for the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, one of the nation's top rehabilitation centers for spinal cord and brain injuries. Many soldiers who see combat suffer repeated neurotraumas that result in Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). These physiological injuries are often undiagnosed and contribute to or exacerbate the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Without treating these injuries first, psychological counseling and other treatments for PTSD are rendered ineffective. The SHARE Military Initiative is a 12-week program that treats both the physiological and psychological effects of TBI and PTSD. It is primarily donor-funded and, to date, no graduate of the program has been lost to suicide.
The Shepherd's Men began their 2016 journey in Boston on March 26 and will end at Shepherd Center in Atlanta on April 3. Along the way, they make stops in Newport, RI; New York, NY; Gettysburg, PA; Lynchburg, VA; Knoxville, TN; Nashville, TN; Chattanooga, TN; and Athens, GA. In each city, they will meet with veterans' groups, VFWs, police, firemen and other local organizations to honor those who have fought for our freedom and bring attention to the combat veterans of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who need treatment.
ABOUT THE JOURNEY HOME PROJECT
The Journey Home Project is a not-for profit organization that assists other not-for-profits in securing funds to help causes that benefit veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The Journey Home Project was founded in 2014 by country music legend Charlie Daniels and board members: David Corlew, Ed Hardy and Joe & Mercedez Longever. Conscious of the need to assist our nation's veterans, they have set out to partner with organizations that do the most good, with the least overhead. Working in tandem with these organizations, The Journey Home Project is making a difference in the lives of American patriots. For more information, visit www.thejourneyhomeproject.org.
ABOUT SHEPHERD'S MEN
Shepherd's Men, founded by Travis Ellis, a civilian and local business leader, and USMC Gunnery Sergeant Troy Campbell, along with active duty Marines from USMC's 4th Reconnoissance Battalion, CO B, raise funds and awareness for SHARE through an annual multi-day run. Their goal is to help their fellow service men and women in need, and to put an end to one tragic and appalling reality—on average, there are 22 veteran suicides each day. No graduate of the SHARE Military Initiative has committed suicide. Inspired by this fact, the Shepherd's Men volunteer their time and effort to raise funds for SHARE to operate and hopefully expand the program to serve more veterans.
In 2014, their first year, Shepherd's Men ran from Shepherd Center in Atlanta to the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Their goal was $50,000 and they raised more than $100,000 for SHARE. In 2015, along with new member Jarrad Turner, a retired U.S. Army medic, and himself a graduate of the SHARE Military Initiative, they ran from the World Trade Center site in New York to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, all while wearing 22 lb. flak vests (representing the 22 veteran suicides each day). Their goal increased to $250,000, and they raised $280,000.
In 2016, Shepherd's Men, joined by new member, U.S. Army veteran and SHARE Graduate James Peterson, will run from Boston to Shepherd Center. Each of them will run 22 kilometers per day wearing 22 lb. flak vests. Their goal is to raise $1 Million for SHARE. Contact Shepherd's men by visiting shepherdsmen.com or calling 404-350-7306, or connect on social media on Twitter and Facebook.
ABOUT THE SHARE MILITARY INITIATIVE AT SHEPHERD CENTER
Shepherd Center's SHARE Military Initiative is a comprehensive continuum of rehabilitative care for U.S. Service members injured in post 9/11 conflicts who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) complicated with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). SHARE provides the resources and tools to eliminate or reduce the symptoms of these injuries and successfully return our veterans to their homes, families, and communities. SHARE offers a broad continuum of care, specifically tailored to meet the needs of each veteran, including housing, physical, occupational, vocational and speech therapies, life coaching, therapeutic recreation and legal, financial and psychological counseling. The Initiative also provides medical care, pain management and other specialized services.
The SHARE program typically serves eight to 10 clients through a 12 week program. All activities are housed in one centralized location and conducted by the same medical and rehabilitation team, so that all aspects of a client's care work collaboratively, as opposed to the fragmented systems clients have often experienced elsewhere. Finally, graduates are assigned case managers who works with them in their home communities and follow their progress post-discharge to ensure they are meeting their goals and have the resources they need to continue their work to recovery.
The SHARE Military Initiative is a primarily donor-funded program at Shepherd Center and clients receive these services at no charge to them or their families. SHARE's current annual fundraising need is $1,150,000.