It is the last day of 2019, on the cusp of a New Year 2020, with all that will bring…Hope, Dreams, Goals, Objectives, New Friends, and Comrades in Arms, Family, Missions and New Beginnings.
Last January 3, 2019, Michael and I set out in our ‘Road Warrior’ a 34-foot Jayco Melbourne motorhome, for the Warrior Way Tour: Vision 2019-2020. Our goal was to visit many historic memorials, monuments, and active duty bases, as well as various Veterans’ Services Organizations. The journey was two-fold as our tour of the Southeast US, starting out from our home state Virginia, through NC, SC, GA, to FL and AL to present these organizations with Courage to Change program opportunities, build our alliances, and network directly with individuals, service members, veterans and their families.
Secondly, travelling on highways to our destination, I could complete writing of my new non-fiction book, Direction in An Age of Confusion. It was scheduled to be published in October, but delayed until February 2020 for good cause and priorities.
We have peers that we have trained, based in Jacksonville FL, Mobile Alabama, and other connections in Deland, Orlando, Port St Lucie, Palm Beach, Fort Myer, Lakeland, and desired to set up a referral network, as well as long-term planning for on-site peer support services training in all of those areas.
When we returned to Virginia, the realization that at our ages, my 66, and Michael 63, that yes, RV travel is the way to go, everything we need is on-hand, stops and stays in some of America’s most beautiful parks and campgrounds, and visits to ‘warrior sites’ was enjoyable. However, without a significant ‘missions headquarters in Virginia’, the ability to anchor services, work from a secure base of operations, personnel, and logistics of texts, equipment, and supplies needed to be addressed.
Significantly our original plan was to train on the sites, purposefully intended that they could provide the facility, space, and basics for the training and support services for the C2C Level I Action Planning for Prevention & Recovery Individual wellness plans, APPR II Facilitator Workforce Development class, and finally the Virginia State Certified Peer Recovery Specialist training (IC&RC international credit program).
Having trained personnel in Nashville, TN the previous three months, at an Equine Therapy program site: Hope and Healing at Hillenglade was been a little rough. (Photo above is Michael with 'Woodstock' during a training break).The facilities were in midst of major renovations, and found that the horse pavilion with one power outlet, no air-conditioning (99 degree heat August then Nov-Dec 52 degrees with propane heat working part-time was almost like deployment, no frills, but the horses poking curiously through pane-less windows found the training to be interesting and entertaining.
Nope, didn’t deter us at all, but the Southeast journey presented lots of similar conditions or much more intensive logistics strategies to be considered, overall.
So we spent the entire Spring to May 2019, going back to the original plan I’d envisioned in 2008, when I relocated to Virginia, re-registered Lighthouse Beacon Church Beacon Institute with all of the appropriate agencies, and began providing ‘Return from War’, Psychological First Aid’ training for the Chaplains, topics debriefing, stabilization, and trauma support care at the Fort Eustis VA, and also support care ‘Alpha Camp’ to assist the youth of the post, coping with the deployments of parents overseas.
Serving at Fort Eustis, I wanted to establish services similar to the Maryland Center for Veteran Education and Training (MCVET) based on the comprehensive continuum of care blueprint for HUD and Mayor Kurt Schmokes’ Office of Homeless Services in 1993. It was a blueprint, now applied nationwide as a best-practices model, for both civilian and military homelessness.
Only I wanted to change the focus, to Permanent Supportive Housing, Independent Living with Holistic Health Services, for service members, veterans and families, with 60% or more disability rating that would not be anything like a traditional assisted living or institutional facility. Warrior Way would be intended as a contemporary answer, to a decades old challenge, providing a vibrant, active, social, ‘Ability’ mind-set for active duty, veterans, and housing that would include keeping younger veteran families and the ‘care-giver’ spouse, partner or child, respite and support, together.
It was a long term goal, and we have been filling in the gaps in my behavioral health support, then when Michael and I joined forces in 2012, added peer training, support services, veteran court justice, advocacy, and network referrals in-state and out-of-state interim.
I found many potential building development partners, investors, and contractors from 2008 ongoing, but each time we found a building new construction location or existing building to rehab, the details, simply didn’t work out for one reason or another.
"We did not give up, simply kept on going no matter what", with only our own, self-sustainable funding, and a plan based on US DHHS SAMHSA Sustaining Grassroots Community Based Programs: A Toolkit for Community-and Faith-Based Services Providers. As adjunct faculty and technical advisor for US DHHS SAMHSA, I not only taught this program for non-profits and community organizations, in Maryland and Virginia, but was an advisor for SAMHSA military support services, speaking at conferences across the nation. The plan includes this strategy: “Sustainability: Money will follow the Mission (the Mission does not follow the Money).
The development of an organization and its mission is clear and passionate awareness of the importance of developing strategies to accomplish the mission of meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of women (persons) in crisis, equipping them to develop lives of wholeness and hope.” (Quote: The Next Door Inc., 2002, page 1-v of the ‘Tool-kit’ Booklet 1 Introduction.
The rest of the text is based on three specific strategies: partnership, focus, and passion, with principles of entrepreneurship funding (services or product sales) maximized, and donor, grants and fund-raising events minimized.
In September our realtor showed us the building at 469 McLaws Circle, Williamsburg VA, we signed contract of sale, our missions require permanency and stability, and started hiring, training, and moving in November 1, 2019. The funding for building, furnishings, and operations, has been provided by the Michael W Newcomb Trust, our family trust, and we sold the family farm in 2017 to provide the ‘seed’ capital to provide a ‘Warrior Way’ someday to be established under Lighthouse Beacon Church Beacon Institute our 501c3, established federally since 2001, and Virginia based since 2008.
At our ages, most people are retiring, but it has taken eleven and half years to get here, no time to stop now, apparently we are expanding, passionate, purposeful, and mission driven. We believe many of you share our passion, our purpose, and Vision 2020, so become Ambassadors of Hope, become “Members” by ‘Challenge Coin’. Or register for classes, group or direct peer support services, online registration, schedules and fees posted Thursday, January 2.
Corporations, Businesses, and other organizations, can send staff to our retreats for training, or yes, we will still send our trainers to sites that are equipped with training rooms or facilities ready for us. Horses welcome.
Warrior Way Wellness Center: Grand Opening, Friday, January 3, 2020, Monday through Saturday, 8am-8pm. www.veteranpathwayshome.org