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Operation Engage America

Operation Engage America

March 18, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rogalski Center

February 2017

Join us in the Rogalski Center Ballroom March 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. when Operation Engage America comes to St. Ambrose University!

This will be a day of support, awareness, education, and resources for Veterans, First Responders, and their families, with an emphasis on Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.

About Operation Engage America

[From Operation Engage America and Howard and Jean Somers]: You may be familiar with our son, Daniel Somers. He was a CA Army National Guardsman who returned to civilian life from the Iraq war as so many of our warriors do, suffering from invisible wounds. For Daniel it was not only Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but also Gulf War Syndrome. His transition to civilian life ended June 10, 2013 when he took his own life, unable to cope any longer with multi-system health issues. We have made it our mission to address the multiple barriers that kept Daniel from receiving the proper treatment he so desperately needed. In that process we hope to ensure that no other veteran or family suffers as ours has.

Lisa and Jeff Naslund of Galva, Iowa, know our story; it is theirs as well. Their son, U.S. Army Sgt. Dillion Naslund, completed tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dillion believed that as a soldier, he needed to deal with the demons that often flashed in nightmares and cold sweats by himself. He was highly decorated, highly revered, and at a desperate crossroads when he took his life Dec. 10, 2012, at the age of 25.

We have learned countless facts since the deaths of Daniel and Dillion: Among them, Post Traumatic Stress is not military-specific. It affects our first responders, victims of domestic, child and sexual abuse, even some of those who've experienced natural disasters and automobile accidents. Additionally, there are thousands of people who sincerely want to help. It is estimated that there are 46,000 volunteer organizations in the United States dedicated to helping service members and their families.

So, you may ask, what is the problem? The problem is visibility.

"As parents of a married service member," said Howard and Jean, "we had no idea that there were resources for us, resources that could have helped us understand what our son went through, what he was going through and how to help him. We had no idea that we could have called the Veterans Administration and asked to speak with his mental health providers to give them a clearer picture of what changes we saw in Daniel. We had no idea that the Vet Center could have provided us insight and guidance in how to talk to him about his war experiences."

There has been progress at the VA and DoD since Daniel and Dillion last "touched" the government system that should have helped them. There is much still to be done. There are those 46,000 organizations trying to fill the many gaps. But how do you know who they are, how do you find them, how do you even know they are there for you?

Let's start putting those organizations together with America now. Let's engage America in the process. Operation Engage America is on a mission: to offer support, awareness, education, and resources to veterans and others living with PTS and TBI, their families and the communities that support them. Our goal is to have a grassroots event in as many communities across America as possible.

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