Lions Project New Hope Northwest
Upon learning of Project New Hope of Minnesota, Lion Joel Graves began the process of establishing a similar operation in Multiple District 19 of the Lions International.The location in Washington State was ideal, given the proximity of several military bases. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord alone the movement of military personnel to and from combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan took on such a pace that, it is no longer rare to hear of military personnel embarking on their 4th and 5th combat assignments.
Such a marathon schedule of departures and returns creates incredible stress for families. While military life can provide a certain type of stability, the turmoil created by the frequent deployments has the potential to overshadow any benefits of stability.The returning veterans can hardly avoid returning with altered personalities or views of life compared to when initially deployed. Each additional deployment only adds cumulative, and often negative affects to the individuals’ personalities. Returning to his or her prior life can often be a problematic transition. Adding to the complexities of returning warriors’ transitions, the veterans’ families have faced difficulties coping with the temporary loss of a key member. They have had to assume responsibilities previously held by the absent individual. Children must learn to conduct themselves without that critical role model and disciplinarian. When the combat tour concludes, the joy is sometimes mixed with the resumption of past roles by all parties, a prospect often creating confusion, frustration and possibly resentment.
For those experiencing difficulties in the transition, Lions Project New Hope Northwest offers free weekend retreats for individual veterans and their families. The retreats, held in the midst of some of the most beautiful and peaceful forest land in the Pacific Northwest, provide professional PTS/mental health counselors at the workshops; counseling sessions with professional counselors; and ample time for the families to enjoy recreational activities as a function of reaffirming the bonds they felt prior to deployment.