Did you know? According to a VA study, an average of 22 Veterans a day are lost to suicide. To raise awareness of this sobering statistic, this past Veterans Day (Observed) Jet Linx partnered with the non-profit Mission 22 and launched a special mission – JTL22. A flight from our Scottsdale Base, crewed by Jet Linx pilots James Williams and Jonathan Strange, who are Veterans themselves, was assigned the call sign “JTL22” in honor of those who have served and are still fighting the war at home.
Mission 22 was founded with the aim of bringing awareness to and reducing – through resources, support and programming – the rate of Veteran suicide in the United States. “Most do not understand what some Veterans go through just on a day to day basis,” noted Mission 22 CEO Sara Dawdy. “For you or I, going to a store is so simple. We shop and we head home. For a veteran for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this seemingly simple thing is anything but that. We are working hard to educate the public on the realities of their daily life so that they can show grace and support them however they are able.”
What began as a small art workshop in a shed Mission 22 has stormed to the forefront of raising awareness for Veteran suicide. The non-profit organization began as ElderHeart, Inc. in 2013 in Nashville, Indiana, founded by a group of special forces veterans (Magnus Johnson, Brad Hubbard and Mike Kissel) is determined to reduce the number of daily Veteran suicides from 22 to zero.
Johnson, an eight-year army Veteran and a former Green Beret, completed three combat tours – two in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. He noted the lasting legacy of war can become painfully clear when soldiers return home. “Shortly after I returned home from my third and final tour, friends of mine started taking their own lives. Specifically, a leader and friend I admired hung himself, and it put me in a depression,” he said. “I soon learned the suicide rate for veterans was 22 a day. Once I learned that, I couldn’t forget it and I founded Mission 22 to help stop the suicide.”
Dowdy, who leads daily efforts at the foundation as CEO, is herself a “Daughter of the Revolution” – her father served in Vietnam and her grandfather in WWII. In fact, “I’ve had a family member serve in every conflict since the Revolutionary War,” she noted. “I have seen the affects of Post Traumatic Stress my entire life, and I am honored to serve my country in this small way – by supporting those that so bravely serve us.”
THE GENERAL PUBLIC HOLDS THE KEY TO A VETERAN’S SUCCESSFUL HOME COMING. BE THERE FOR THEM.Magnus Johnson
Through the Veteran’s Rehab Project, Mission 22 currently offers two treatment programs that focus on traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress. The first, specialized Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBO), has helped hundreds of Veterans with an intensive five to eight week program designed specifically to treat Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress. The second program, Endobiogeny for PTSD, offers a personalized, whole person approach to healing veterans. Endobiogeny focuses on the whole person as the point of treatment, not just symptoms, to offer support and healing for physical, mental and emotional interactions. The program costs on average $1,800 for the first six months with most veterans remaining in the program for one to one and a half years. Mission 22 covers this cost 100% and there are no charges to Veterans seeking treatment.
These programs correlate directly to positive results and a better life for participants. “Of the individuals that sign up for HBO for TBI or Endobiogeny for PTS, 98% show a significant improvement with their conditions,” noted Johnson. “Our programs are cutting edge – they work and warriors and families are getting a new life. Our next challenge is to scale these services.”
Dawdy echoed this sentiment. “Having two programs with such a great success rate of healing, word gets around fast,” she said. “We never want to have a wait list, so fundraising efforts are in full force to continue enrollments.”
As a company in the aviation space, Jet Linx employs a great number of Veterans. National Operations Center Operations Assistant Jordan Traster served in the U.S. Navy from 1994 to 1999, and helped spearhead the effort to promote Mission 22 through the JTL22 call sign last year.
“The JTL22 flight was the greatest event I’ve participated in at Jet Linx,” Traster noted. “It’s humbling that our team members at all levels were willing to support the idea of a flight in honor of all veterans, and make it a reality. The most awe-inspiring moment was standing with everyone at the NOC for 22 seconds of silence as our pilots flew JTL22 at 22,000 feet, at 322 knots. The Team’s show of unity and respect for Veterans past and present is something I’ll always remember.”
The Mission 22 team notes that supporting Veterans returning home begins with all of us. “The general public holds the keys to a veteran’s successful home coming,” Johnson stressed. “Be there for them – they need you at every level you can imagine. Especially when they first get out.”