FranNet Gives Back is a program that celebrates the good things our Consultants do for the communities in which they work and live. And on this Veterans Day, we are proud to bring you a timely and meaningful story from Emily Anderson, of FranNet of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Two years ago, she and her husband created a nonprofit, The Shield, dedicated to helping veterans and first responders deal with mental health and wellness. 

Through this first-person testimonial, Emily shares her story of how it all began…and where they’re going from here.

Fueled by Demand

“My husband is a Mental Health Clinician and Wellness Consultant who specializes in helping people mitigate PTSD-related issues such as heart palpitations, sleep disorders, anxiety, and stress. Many people don’t realize that the wait time to see a non-VA specialist can be 50-60 days—but these issues require immediate attention. We were able to cut the wait time to an average of five days, no co-pay, just come see us. The need was there, evidenced by the overwhelming demand for help. There’s a stigma among veterans and first-responders seeking help because they rarely ask or reach out. We decided to form a nonprofit with a formal structure and address the problem on a larger scale.”

The Shield

“Two years ago, we filed the paperwork to formally establish our nonprofit, The Shield. We created a website with background information and a way to donate. With the help of a few Oregon-based veteran groups and local health care providers, we had enough funding to begin making a difference. We’re now seeing 12-15 patients each week, all of whom receive a minimum of one hour of one-on-one counseling to address their specific mental health needs.”

Alarming Statistics

“It’s safe to say that PTSD was quite a problem before Covid hit. It’s made face to face appointments difficult and that’s where people are most likely to open up. We know the problem runs deep for first responders and veterans. A recent survey study from the University of Northern Illinois queried law enforcement personnel across the country. Here are the startling revelations”:

  • 29% screened positive for moderate to severe anxiety
  • 37% screened positive for moderate to very severe depression
  • 47% screened positive for PTSD
  • 55% reported they consider quitting their job daily
  • 59% reported feeling trapped or hopeless in their job

The Outlook

“We want to grow our ability to provide more and more counseling hours for our veterans and first responders to meet the increasing demand. We’re doing the best we have right now with the resources available, but we are putting together outreach to get the word out. It helps funding through donations and that money can be used to recruit more health professionals and provide more resources for the population of Central Oregon. We’re starting to do one community awareness event a month and we’re kicking off our “10 for 10” program. 10% of our population are vets or first responders and if one percent of us donated just 10 dollars each month, it would allow an additional 100 hours of free counseling services each month. The Shield is an all-volunteer organization and we just want to make a difference. We’re up and running now, hoping to grow and we’re very excited to see what we can achieve in the years to come.”

For more information about The Shield nonprofit, please visit their website at www.shieldcentraloregon.org.