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 – based in Orlando and Tampa – comes 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 as well as emotional and spiritual support for members of all branches of the military, veterans and their families.
“There are more than 76,000 post-9/11 veterans living in Central Florida, and approximately 25,000 of them will experience cognitive or re-adjustment issues when returning home from deployment,” Executive Director Neftali Rodriguez says. “With our current funding, we can only assist a few hundred, and that isn’t nearly enough based on our inquiries and asks.”
Camaraderie 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.
Since 2009, Camaraderie Foundation has provided community outreach to 6,086 veterans and/or family members in 41 states and provided counseling services to over 1,400 cases. With the support of the community, the organization hopes to continue expanding its presence and reach its Saving Lives – Saving Families goal.
Camaraderie Foundation launched the Saving Lives – Saving Families Campaign to reach at least 1,000 post-9/11 veterans and/or family members who need its services. The goal is to raise at least $2 million, a number that is based on the average $2,000 needed to assist each individual.
The Camaraderie Foundation also challenges participants to “Walk, Run or Ruck a Mile in Their Boots” by participating in its annual Ruck Sack Race on November 20. This year, the 5k walk, run, or ruck at two locations on the same day – SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Participants can also join virtually with race shirt and finishing medal included. Participants can choose to walk, run or compete as a Warrior wearing a 35-pound ruck sack.
How You Can Help
- Make a tax-deductible donation to the Saving Lives – Saving Families campaign at www.CamaraderieFoundation.org
- Donate supplies, services or equipment that are regularly used during Camaraderie Foundation programs, including Family Fun Days, Mentor Leadership Program and Peer-to-Peer Support Groups. A wish list of items can be found on the organization’s website.
- Participate in Camaraderie Foundation fundraising events.