Hillsboro Elks Lodge 361 recently awarded its 2021-22 Beacon Grant to Save A Warrior. This year the annual grant was combined to be able to award a total of $5,500. The lodge puts a priority on local veterans and said it is proud to partner with Save A Warrior to accomplish this goal.
Save A Warrior (SAW) is a non-profit organization, new to the community, that specifically addresses the mental health crisis experienced by military, veterans and frontline professionals. SAW is achieving extraordinary results through a rigorous, structured 72-hour intensive residential intervention that envelops small groups of veterans and first responders. It began about nine years ago in California.
Due to the need of a more centralized location, they opened a second location in Newark. After the donation of a generous benefactor, the location was moved in early 2021 to Danville on approximately 230 picturesque acres. The Hillsboro site is now the organization’s national headquarters. With the cooperation of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), SAW is currently building a 7,700-square-foot learning center on the property with plans to build additional lodging cabins. These new facilities will allow them to serve more than one group simultaneously. Participants do not pay to attend the SAW experience; they only arrange their own transportation.
As of 2019, one in five (51.5 million) American adults live with mental illness. Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2019 with approximately 47,000 Americans taking their own lives. Military personnel are struggling at an even greater level. Between 2005 and 2017, suicide increased by 6 percent. According to a 2016 study published by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 1.7 million veterans (between 1979 and 2014) have committed suicide. The country has been losing more than 6,000 veterans each year since 2008 at an average of 20 veteran lives each day. A 2014 JAMA psychiatry study found that Post Traumatic Stress is 15 times higher in military than in civilians. The depression rate is 5 times higher.
Frontline professionals, many whom are veterans, face their own set of challenges including the pressure of making sure people get the help and care they need, working long shifts and the added stress of exposing themselves and their loved ones to COVID-19. Suicide rates among this group are 20 percent higher than civilians. In 2017, suicide was the number one cause of death among firefighters and police officers in the U.S. Furthermore, one report stated that one suicide touches an average of about 135 lives.
The pandemic has been overwhelming and isolating. It has taken a toll on the mental health of these three important groups of people and a forefront in today’s media.
The Hillsboro Elks strives to serve these vital individuals. Improving their mental health will help to improve their lives and the lives of their families and loved ones. Through this partnership, the Elks will be exploring various opportunities to create a long-term, working relationship. This could include future things like golf tournament fundraisers, guest speakers at the lodge and special events helped on the SAW property.
The Beacon Grant will be earmarked to the Highland County participants who are wishing to attend the Save A Warrior program. For further information, SAW can be contacted at www.saveawarrior.org.
Submitted by Laura Bagshaw, Hillsboro Elks.