When service men and women return home, it should be a happy experience. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Transitioning back to a normal routine with their families may be difficult, especially for those affected by what occurred during their deployment.
That’s where Camaraderie Foundation steps in.
Founded by Marnie and Michael Waldrop, a decorated post 9/11 veteran, the nonprofit’s mission is to provide healing for invisible war wounds through counseling and emotional and spiritual support for all branches of the military, veterans and their families. In Central Florida, more than 85,000 military members have been deployed since 9/11. Over 41,000 of these veterans are waiting for disability claims, which take an average of 311 days to process. Camaraderie Foundation can typically help service members and their families within 24 to 48 hours.
Executive Director Terri Wallace explains, “The year after coming home is especially challenging. The transition can trigger significant mental health problems, but veterans often suffer silently until it becomes overwhelming, and they and/or their families just can’t handle it alone anymore. We’re saying, ‘Speak up. You’re not alone. Thousands of fellow veterans and service members are experiencing what you are. At Camaraderie Foundation, we can and want to help.’”
The Foundation provides 100 percent financial support for confidential, private counseling to address post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, anger management, anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, marital and relationship issues, domestic violence, suicidal thoughts, spiritual wellness and child/adolescent therapy. This support literally saves lives, marriages and families.
The organization hosts free Family Fun Days to help couples reconnect and enjoy quality family time with their children. There is also an annual, complimentary Mentor Leadership Program, which partners with local business members and 10 qualified veterans.
With the support of the community, Camaraderie Foundation hopes to expand its presence throughout Central Florida and eventually the country.