Best Defense

Comment of the day: Gourley on two more good outfits helping veterans

This comment was posted by Jim yesterday in response to the item recommending three charities helping veterans of combat. His last paragraph should be etched in stone somewhere. By Jim Gourley Best Defense commenter of the year I work with Team Red, White and Blue, which whose founder and CEO, Mike Erwin, is an active ...

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This comment was posted by Jim yesterday in response to the item recommending three charities helping veterans of combat.

His last paragraph should be etched in stone somewhere.

By Jim Gourley
Best Defense commenter of the year

I work with Team Red, White and Blue, which whose founder and CEO, Mike Erwin, is an active duty Major in the Army. The concept is one you’ve heard before, but important to the veterans’ fight — keep your money, we want change.

The concept is to be a Big Brothers/Big Sisters for veterans. It’s pretty simple — folks like Wounded Warrior and IAVA have plenty of money and machismo to throw at Congress. That base is covered. It’s also arguable that Congress is so far out in left field that there’s a point in covering it. Let’s face it, money is drying up and veteran care will take a hit. However, the organization believes that the government can only do so much. It’s the people that it represents that can do the most good. Go to the website and sign up to be an advocate. If we find out about a veteran in your area who’s wounded, experiencing psychological difficulties, has financial or child care issues, or just needs a friend to help them get through a lonely day, we call you, provide you with the necessary resources and information, and make the introduction. We provide people who want to help veterans the chance to ACTUALLY HELP A VETERAN.

Throwing money at the problem hasn’t solved it. I’ve said it before. It’s a human problem. It requires a human solution. That solution is working.

The other group I’d plug is Ride2Recovery. If you say I’m crazy for thinking that riding a bike can help you overcome the effects of PTSD, you’d be right. That’s the whole point. I never smoked pot. I never got a hit of MDMA. I got on a bike and kept pedaling. I haven’t stopped. I have no scientific data on this. All I know is that it worked for me, and I’ve met countless veterans who have done the same thing. It is an incredible thing for these people to do something so difficult that they never thought they’d get through it. It re-empowers them. It gives them a fight to get back into, and the support they need to win it. When you lose a limb, your mind, your career and your future, it’s a wonderful thing to put one back in the win column. Their headquarters is in California but they have rides from coast to coast.

The people who saved my life didn’t give a dime. They gave a damn. They worked with me, lived with me, left me alone when I needed to be alone and stayed with me when I needed someone there. I’m here because of them. Others out there aren’t lucky enough to have friends like I did. Congress can’t be there for them, but people in their neighborhood can.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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