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Bonds of Courage

Joined in April 2012

About Us

Mission

Bonds of Courage is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission it is to support post-9/11 troops, veterans, and their families to increase morale and provide assistance with jobs, health, families, and finances.

We build bonds with those whose courage is at the heart and strength of our nation, through person-to-person support from oath to home, for as long as they need us.

History and Evolution

Bonds of Courage was originally established in 2004 as Summit (NJ) Supports Our Troops by Dr. Christine Truhe, a licensed psychologist, and mother of a troop. It started as a grassroots community group whose primary mission was to provide personal care supplies, food items and mementos from home to serve as a morale booster for troops serving overseas. In 8 years of service to more than 100 troops (and their units), their families and the community, Bonds of Courage recognized that there is a gap in essential services when the troop comes home from active duty. Bridging this gap is the difference between a veteran carrying on successfully with day-to-day life as a civilian and a life fraught with difficulties.

In September of 2010, Bonds of Courage’s Board of Directors made the strategic decision to move from a provisioning organization solely to a provider of social services to post 9/11 veterans and their families in New Jersey. When troops who have been linked with Bonds of Courage return from active duty, the staff of Bonds of Courage reaches out to make the following resources available for free in four core areas:

- Career counseling and support

- Financial advice from qualified professionals

- Health assessment to identify any behavioral, physical and social issues

- Family support

Stability in these four areas is what will ensure that our troops have the wonderful quality of life that they deserve when they discharge after serving and protecting the American people. All of these core services are critical; if one area of an individual’s life is out of balance, all facets are affected. Bonds of Courage maintains relationships with providers in all four core areas and serves as a bridge to connect troops to the services it does not provide.

The importance of outreach and the specific services areas were based on research which has shown that veterans and their families that do not get help during the transition period from military to civilian life are likely never to seek help and facts such as those listed below.

-As of May 2011, the unemployment rate for post 9/11 male veterans 18-24, the largest group of veterans was 27% compared to 17.4% for male non-veterans 18-24 (Bureau of Labor and Statistics).

-The rates of mental health problems among military following combat ranges between 8% and 31% (2010, Thomas, Wilk, Riviere, McGurk, Castro, & Hoge)

-Almost 40% of post-9/11 veterans and their families reported having relationship/or marital problem, with 44% reporting they were separating or divorcing (2010, Kline & Losonczy).

-200,000 veterans experience homelessness during a given year, while 100,000 are chronically homeless and 67,495 were reported homeless on a given night (2011, HUD/VA Report).

In addition, the Post-9/11 Veterans Council of Bonds of Courage served to guide the direction of the services needed by their fellow veterans. This council and our regular participation in military affairs, enables Bonds of Courage to bridge the gap between the military and the civilians they serve by providing opportunities for effective volunteer action on the part of civilians to meet real needs of troops, veterans, and their families.

SOCIAL SERVICES PROVIDED BY BONDS OF COURAGE

Bonds of Courage is in the unique position among community based military support organizations to have a model for offering essential social services to new veteran which allows for outreach and early intervention which is key to avoiding a crisis. Bonds of Courage fills the gap in social services for post veterans and their families in four areas of need-jobs, health, families, and finances. The needs and the importance of outreach exist because: active duty troops and their families often struggle due to multiple and/or extended deployments, the aftermath of combat, and the 24/7 of military life; Veterans Affairs is underfunded and does not offer outreach; military personnel do not generally ask for help; and many problems do not show up immediately after being discharged but can build over months and years.

Social services for veterans and their families in the four areas of need - Jobs, Health, Family Support and Finances.

- Jobs for Vets Professional career counseling is provided to increase the likelihood the veteran will secure employment. The pilot program which served 14 clients in 2011 was successful. With grant funding in 2012 Bonds of Courage would like to hire a Jobs for Vets Program Manager to serve 50 clients over the next 12 months.

- Financial Fitness A three hour money management series which is being taught by financial management professionals who are veterans. The first series started 2/23/12. The initial program, being fully funded by a grant from Investors Bank, will serve 50 clients in 2012.

- We Serve With You support groups for spouses, parents and family members of active duty troops help build the resilience of those who care for a service member. These groups meet every other week for 1.5 hours for 8 sessions, facilitated by behavioral health professionals. The groups are educational support groups and no treatment for mental health issues are conducted. The pilot group served 14 people. If funding is available, it is hoped that the program can expand to serve 50 clients in 2012.

- Wellness Screening Wellness screenings are provided to each client served to identify issues and offer appropriate services, either directly through Bonds of Courage or through referrals of vetted providers in the area. With funding, this function will be run by a part-time intake counselor serving approximately 200 clients.

Buddy and Provisioning Programs

Since inception in 2004, Bonds of Courage provided services based in relationships, bonds, cultivated over time with the troop with the help of their Buddy. Every troop must enlist with a Buddy who keeps us aware of their coordinates and their status. Through these bonds, we have provided personal care supplies, food and mementos to serve as morale boosters to over 25,136 troops (3600 on avg/yr) from the greater Summit area or associated with someone from this area, and members of their units. The purchase and packing out of these provisions is done entirely by volunteers and donors. Some of these items include Girl Scout Cookies and snacks, DVD’s, toiletries, and Beanie Babies for children in areas where troops operate.

Mission

Bonds of Courage is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission it is to support post-9/11 troops, veterans, and their families to increase morale and provide assistance with jobs, health, families, and finances.

We build bonds with those…

Issue Areas Include

  • Veterans

Location

  • 561 Springfield Avenue
    Summit, NJ 07901

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