CENTERS OF HOPE MEETS Mondays, 6:30-7:30pm, June 10- August 26, at Hoover Tactical

1561 Montgomery Highway, Hoover, AL 35216 (or text 205-291-1391)

Centers of Hope is an initiative led by Crosswinds, a 501c3 in Birmingham, Alabama, which has worked closely with the veteran population for the past decade.

Centers of Hope are designed to be places where veterans receive encouragement, resources, and relationships with others who've walked where they have walked. The groups- 

  • Meet regularly (weekly or bi-weekly, as decided by the group)
  • Start and stop on time, running for an hour (with the option for veterans to meet informally before or after the group time)
  • Provide a safe space for warriors to say things that usually remain unsaid, as well as impart wisdom and understanding to one other
  • Serve as hubs where information and resources can easily be shared

 

Warrior Hope is the curriculum created for Centers of Hope.

It is divided into four units, comprised of ten chapters. Each one walks the reader through the process of dealing with (or helping others to deal with) the invisible scars that may accompany military service. 

It doesn’t stop there, though. The goal isn’t just to find healing from the past; the goal is to forge ahead into the best possible future— a future which includes redeployment into a new mission. 

In order to accomplish this two-fold objective, the manual is divided into four units, using the acronym HOPE. 

  • H = Healing
  • O = Opportunity 
  • P = Peace
  • E = Empowerment

Each of these work together. In order to move forward we must find healing (H) and make peace with the past (P). We must gather the resources we need (O) while forging ahead (E).

THE FOLLOWING VIDEO PROVIDES A GREATER GLIMPSE INTO THE CENTERS OF HOPE

 

SONGS OF HOPE IS ONE METHOD CROSSWINDS USES TO RAISE FUNDS & AWARENESS

And the events create an easy space for veterans and others to learn more about the mission of the organization.

The first event, Red, White, & Boots, was held May 16, 2019, at WorkPlay Theater.

We took 5 veterans to a farm outside of Nashville the Friday before the event. There, they met with 5 of the industry's top singer-songwriters and shared their stories.

The musicians put the story to song, as we recorded the process.

The following week, we shared the 4-minute videos to a live audience and then listened to the songwriters perform the melody they crafted.

The five videos below are the short films, shot on camera phones during the song writing day, which we showed at the event.

 

SONG 1

Joe Montalbano left high school during the surge in Iraq to go fight.

We teamed Joe with Bernie. The two captured Joe's perspective on Iraq, that he lived in a combat zone in which nothing was normal, yet he still had to do normal "everyday" things.

Though he struggled post-war (and is interviewed in the Invisible Scars film), Joe reminds viewers that every memory wasn't bad. At some point you have to move forward from the past. And, you can do that by not only dealing with the hurts you experienced but also by looking at the greater m oments, too.

SONG 2

Colonel John Reitzell has four Purple Hearts, and has jumped out of more planes than most people have diving boards.

We teamed John with Dan, a songwriter how also happens to be a veteran. Though the two served in different branches of the military, they served in the same places for much of their careers and had a lot in common. 

During the war, the two fought to survive, to finish the mission.

But what do you fight for after the war is over? And what do you live for now that the mission is accomplished? Why did you survive- why are you still here- when others aren't?

John and Dan tackle this part of John's story in this film and song.

SONG 3

Matt Bein says being a marine was the honor of his life...

... but when you come back from war, a lot of things are different.

Matt has been incredibly transparent about struggling with PTSD, as has the songwriter we teamed him with, J.T. Cooper.

J.T. was one of the soldiers in the true "Black Hawk Down" event. In fact, if you've seen the movie and remember the call signal alerting everyone that Jimmy Martin had just been killed... Jimmy was J.T.'s best friend + roommate. 

In this film and song, the two vets discuss how each change is a series of letting old things go so that you can move forward.

SONG 4

As a young mother, Ginger Branson became a nurse to help support her family...

In her words, she "hated it." 

Someone suggested she look into the military, so she did. She became a field nurse there and, as she says in the video, "I loved it."

We partnered her with Leslie.

In this film they discuss how many of the battles that soldiers face have nothing to do with bullets. And, when they do face bullets, they're not always equipped to deal with the wounds they encounter even there.

This is a tender story that left the audience in tears.

SONG 5

Jeremiah begins his story by reminding us that there are things "over here" that we all take for granted- like using the restroom and flushing it instead of burning it.

We teamed him with Jeremy, a fabulous writer who captured the essence of Jeremiah's story... that there are many disconnects along the path of war.

And, part of the disconnect is this: What will loved ones back here really think of us if they really know what we had to do in order to protect our country?

In New Day, Different War, the two men explore this theme...

The film which began it all

Invisible Scars is the documentary that started the journey

Most combat wounds aren't visible.

Crosswinds released a documentary in 2014 aimed at helping military personnel who were suffering mental and emotional trauma (PTSD) as a result of their deployment, combat experience, or separation from family members who had been deployed. 

That first film, Invisible Scars, immediately gained wide grassroots distribution— largely by word of mouth. DVDs of the film were passed from person to person, and— through generous donors— were provided free to veterans and their families. This method of distribution created a relational connection between the organization, government agencies, service providers, and current and former soldiers.

CLICK HERE TO STREAM THE FILM FREE OF CHARGE
 

The first documentary revealed that there's something that looks like PTSD that isn't...

Through many conversations, it was determined that a follow-up documentary was needed. So, in 2016 Crosswinds released Honoring the Code, a film addressing issues of Moral Injury (MI) and survivor’s guilt. 

Centers of Hope is the result of the Invisible Scars and Honoring the Code film projects. The films created conversations, and the conversations facilitated relationships, which made it apparent that a space was needed to take those conversations deeper— a space where warriors could receive the resources they need and be redeployed to their next mission— a mission they could carry out now that they’re home. 

 
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