My first visit to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Foundation of America in Houston, Texas, to evaluate its fit for a solar energy grant from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club® left me filled with a wide range of emotions. I think, like most Americans without a military background, the extent and impact of this debilitating condition on soldiers, veterans and their loved ones was completely unfamiliar to me. I learned from their team a shocking statistic: Each day in the U.S., 22 vets and one active duty service member commit suicide, most likely from PTSD. Think about that for a moment: every day. My heart still sinks when I do.
Our meeting was at Camp Hope — a multi-acreage site with their office, interim housing for vets and a planned multi-purpose building. This new facility would offer much more space for those who rely on PTSD Foundation services to deal with this devastating disorder, surrounded by compassion and understanding. I left Camp Hope knowing that the multi-purpose building should be solar-powered to help save this amazing organization much needed funds every month. Those savings could then go right back into their very lean budget to be better-used to support the brave men and women who serve our country.
On Oct 18, 2014, I had the distinct honor of visiting Camp Hope again, this time to officially dedicate the completed 16-kilowatt solar array. It was built with a $60,000 donation from the Sun Club and is expected to produce more than 26,000 kilowatt-hours a year. That should be enough to cover the entire electricity load for the building and will save the organization tens of thousands of dollars over the system’s 25-30 year lifetime.
The ceremony was held during their 3rd Annual BBQ Cook-Off fundraiser, which brought out hundreds of vets and supporters. Following the dedication, the entire crowd was moved when one vet spoke about how he came to Camp Hope in June with two options; one was a suicide note in his pocket. Thankfully, because of the support and services he received from the PTSD Foundation, he chose the second option. Today he has repaired the relationships with his family, taken control of his life and is starting a new job at the PTSD Foundation as an outreach coordinator. I could see the pride on his face when he explained how he would now be bringing a message of hope to other vets who are in the same dire situation that he was in just months ago. It was a proud moment for me, too.
If you or someone you know is having a difficult time after returning from military service, know that you are not alone. Contact the PTSD Foundation today. And if you’re looking for a worthy organization to support with your own time or funds, I couldn’t recommend a better one.
To learn more about this donation and how you can help the Sun Club donate solar to even more incredible non-profits like the PTSD Foundation, please visit here.