July 2024 Vol. 16

When the Navy Safe Harbor Foundation (NSHF) was initially organized in 2009, we had one program, Family Support. We focused on helping the Navy wounded who had returned from the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many returning sailors had injuries that precluded them from resuming their work in the Navy. Once medically discharged from the Navy, those sailors encountered many unexpected difficulties that could not be addressed through government benefits. While it was the individual Sailor who had been injured, many had families that also experienced life-altering changes. Financial stressors related to the Sailor’s diagnosis impacted the already tenuous circumstances, and the Foundation aimed to help relieve those stressors so the Sailors and their families could thrive. We have maintained this program as our cornerstone mission since our founding

In 2010, the Navy Safe Harbor Foundation was asked to assist the veterans participating in the Adaptive Athletic program. Many Navy and Coast Guard Sailors have found a new lease on life through the sports that the Adaptive Athletic program provides and have developed support systems that follow them through their journey. NSHF has provided meals, lodging, and travel for veteran athletes who can no longer access DoD funding annually,. This program remains a consistent and vital mission for the Foundation.

NSHF began working with the US Navy’s official wounded warrior program “Navy Wounded Warrior” in 2019 to provide a caregiver-focused program to enhance the experience and resiliency of the individuals who have taken on the responsibility of caring for the wounded, ill, and injured. Each program provides time to relax and practice some self-care, information on available resources, tips on avoiding the pitfalls of the high-stress caregiving situation, and encouragement to bond with other caregivers. This “Caring for the Caregiver” program remains an essential focus of our mission and one we are excited to continue to provide.

In this edition of Sitrep, we are excited to tell you about our latest program: In 2024, the Foundation began collaborating on the Restoring Hope program, focusing on enrollees of the Navy Wounded Warrior Program who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST). This program provides a safe and nurturing environment for attendees as they navigate the healing process. With one event complete and one in planning, NSHF is excited to grow its support for this new program.

Thoughts From Our Board

CAPT Arne Nelson, USN, (ret)

Greetings Shipmates,

I have been with Navy Safe Harbor for four years, serving primarily as NSH’s West Coast representative, attending CNIC’s annual resource fair, assisting HQ in grant writing, and to a lesser degree, identifying potential individual and corporate donors. Heidi asked:

  1. Why I think this mission is important enough to me to be on the board of directors (I bring 19 years of nonprofit charity leadership and experience) and
  2. Why I give my time and effort to support our mission (because it’s for our shipmates).

First, reviewing our mission:

  1. Provide financial assistance to support Sailors and Guardsmen enrolled in the Navy Wounded Warrior Program,
  2. Fill gaps and provide services not available through government benefits, and
  3. Raise awareness of the needs of wounded or injured Navy Sailors or Coast Guardsmen and their families.

As I read the mission, it’s all about helping our shipmates. And that is enough of a reason.

Like many of my Board colleagues, the Navy put me in a lot of tough places and situations, witnessing a lot of misery (e.g., Haiti ops, Turkish earthquake relief, Iraqi Kurdish relief ops, Liberia/West African ops, to name a few), and at home in America with weather generated events, all requiring a modicum of basic humanitarian relief services. Reaching the end of my active service (31+ years), I found a niche in the non-profit world, focused on the delivery of basic human services – you know the bottom two rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs… food, shelter, low-income elderly housing, primary medical and dental care, mental health services, job placement, disaster preparedness and relief – often filling gaps and delivering services not available from government benefits or traditional funding sources.

I led three well-known charity agencies that provided those services while I continuously learned the ropes of fundraising and the delivery of human services, along with the occasional one-off request for special needs services and the accompanying workarounds needed to execute. I realized that fundraising and long-range planning were going to be my new normal in the nonprofit environment. I studied best practices, sought out experiences, and mentored others before joining the Navy Safe Harbor team.

Though our mission includes the traditional mix of basic services, I understand the importance of the “fundraising ask” and the ability to influence people to support what we do. Equally important, I understand the urgency of the mission. The cases we support are real, and the awards we make can save a shipmate’s family from homelessness.

Bottom line: I always hope to make a difference.

Restoring Hope

Heidi Weller

In April, Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW), Mid-Atlantic Region hosted an event as part of its revamped Restoring Hope program. With nine military sexual trauma (MST) survivors in attendance, the program focused on setting a vision for the journey each attendee envisioned through developing personal vision boards for themselves and developing self-care techniques to enhance individual growth and mindset as they strive moving forward in their recovery process.

The Restoring Hope program was organized in 2020 when a Navy Chaplain leading a peer-to-peer program identified a need for Navy Service Members who had experienced sexual trauma. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, MST includes any sexual activity during military service in which a person is involved against their will or when unable to say no.

These survivors have experienced trauma under various circumstances and not specifically within the military environment. The NWW Mid-Atlantic Region currently has approximately 600 active enrollees in their Wounded Warrior program; of those, 17 are Female Military Sexual Survivors (MST).

The Restoring Hope program coordinators, Nancy Kyle, Recovery Care Coordinator, and LT Daniel Gomez, Non-Medical Care Manager, feel passionate to support these MST enrollees and to provide a safe and nurturing environment to assist with their recovery. In developing the new program agenda, they identified a need to move the event to a non-base facility and to bring in an outside presenter with experience working within this demographic. The workshop was led by Debbie Segebart of StudioD Yoga, from Richmond VA, who taught relaxation techniques and provided guidelines to help each attendee create a personal vision for how they see their life as they move forward. Vision boards help people identify their path to success and provide motivation and guidance to help them stay on their path over time. This process was well received and was helpful; for example, a survivor who had tried twice to develop a vision board with limited success was attending the session, and through the guidance and support she received that day, she found her vision and path forward and completed her vision board. Other attendees said the event was just what they needed and hadn’t even known it. Many of the service members took the time to express their thanks and commitment to future events.

Reclaiming a sense of self and personal power takes time and requires diligent attention and help. NWW plans to offer the Restoring Hope events quarterly. LT Gomez and Ms. Kyle envision giving these survivors an opportunity to develop support from each other and strengthen their resilience. Future events will be invitation-only and comprised of small female-only groups with female presenters in off-base locations to ensure a safe space for sharing, expressing their emotions, and identifying what they need to move forward.

Navy Safe Harbor Foundation was honored to support the Restoring Hope program and will remain actively engaged in supporting future events.

Come play in our 14th Annual Golf Tournament at Westfields Golf Club on Monday, September 30, 2024.

Register  before June 1, 2024 and receive a free mulligan package for your foursome.

Help us support our wounded, ill, and injured sailors!

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