Despite excited intentions to begin a career, continue their education or return to normal civilian lives, many veterans suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS), both of which have negative physical and mental impacts on a person’s ability to begin or resume a career.....
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has taken to social media to help raise awareness and funds for the illnesses with the end goal of building nine additional rehabilitation centers across the country following the initial 2010 construction of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md.
These illnesses affect more than 625,000 service members, or nearly one in seven soldiers living with wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the Make It Visible campaign encourages everyone to get involved and contribute to the cause through the use of social media tactics such as YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter.
[caption id="attachment_8460" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Dave Winters, President of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund"][/caption]
1851 caught up with Dave Winters, President of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, on how social media has helped them get their message across to the public as they continue with their mission:
1. Social media is a great way to get any cause out there. What helped propel the decision to launch the “Make It Visible” campaign in social media?
The @MakeItVisible Campaign was established in 2013 by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) to educate the public about traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress (PTS) afflicting military personnel returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The campaign’s goal is to raise $100 million for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to build nine National Intrepid Centers of Excellence (NICoE) Satellite Centers. More than a third of that total has already been raised, and the first three centers are under construction. But we need the public’s help to raise the remaining $66 million to build the other six centers. Each center can ultimately help thousands of military families afflicted by these devastating injuries, but we can only succeed in building them all with the public’s help. We ask everyone to spread the word about the @MakeItVisible campaign, through Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and encourage contacts to support this effort.
2. Are the first new centers open? Where are they located, and where is the next block of centers slated to open?
The first two NICoE Satellite Centers are currently being built at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. We expect them to open to military personnel with TBI and PTS and their families this fall. We also broke ground on the third NICoE Satellite Center in Fort Campbell, Ky., this June and have plans to build six more around the country.
The centers funded and built by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund are being located at military installations around the country. These convenient locations allow service members to receive TBI and PTS medical services without having to separate themselves from their units or leave their families for extended periods of treatment. This proximity to family and friends is expected to enhance service members’ care and rehabilitation; in fact, family participation is a key part of treatment.
3. Considering many of our readers are veterans, where can they go for more information in case they have questions about TBI or PTS to either them or someone they know?
For more information on PTS and TBI and to find out how to help, readers can visit www.fallenheroesfund.org. For more information about the help available specifically to military personnel at NICoE Satellite Centers, visit www.nicoe.capmed.mil.
Part of the problem is that too many service members and their families are unaware of the resources and treatment available to them. The NICoE Satellite Centers will help to fill a substantial void in care for our wounded heroes in uniform and their families. TBI and PTS are injuries that are not fully understood, and in the past have been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, and therefore not treated. If not treated properly, these injuries can hinder our troops for the rest of their lives. Further, there are currently not sufficient facilities to address the needs of the hundreds of thousands of returning troops suffering from TBI and PTS. The NICoE centers are designed specifically to address these types of injuries. Although great progress has been made in the Armed Forces’ care for these troops in the past several years, much more needs to be done, and the NICoE centers are a key part of that solution.
4. I see you encourage individuals to Tweet about the Make It Visible campaign as well as “Like” the Facebook page or communicate about the initiative with acquaintances. How do you think this helps the overall goal of raising awareness?
The @MakeItVisible campaign is designed to ensure the American public understands these invisible injuries can be as impactful as any physical injury. It’s about taking the stigma out of PTS and TBI and helping mainstream America understand the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform – and how we can help them. Social media is one of the fastest and most effective ways of reaching that audience.
5. How has YouTube been able to paint a positive visual on the cause? What has been the response of the individuals who are featured in the videos?
YouTube has enabled us to let the real-life men and women who are living with these invisible wounds tell their stories in their own words. Seeing the faces of these American heroes helps other service members who may face similar circumstances understand that they are not alone. We are incredibly grateful to the individuals featured in those videos for their bravery, both during their service and here at home. By sharing their story they have given a voice to the hundreds of thousands of military personnel and veterans suffering from these invisible wounds of war, and have brought hope to military families around the country.