Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our Vision for Veteran's Refuge Network

Our Vision
By Andrew Turner
2, March 2014

This past Friday night we met with a small group of people to share with them our vision of Veteran’s Refuge Network.  One of the first comments we heard was, “Ok, so you guys are going really big here.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.”  We are going big.  Bigger than anything any of us have ever attempted before.  Up till now we have focused on short-term goals through our social media campaign (promoting PTSD and veteran suicide awareness, developing a community of veterans and supporters, and helping veterans find available resources) and will continue that focus, but on this night, we unveiled our long-term goal for the first time.  We’ve been asked multiple times what our vision is; we haven’t given a solid answer because we haven’t been able to properly articulate it to this point, and because it has been too raw to share.  Our goal for our Friday night meeting was to get face-to-face with other like-minded, passionate people who care for the well-being of veterans as much as we do, and to collectively build our vision and the plan to make it a reality. 

OUR VISION: To build and maintain Michigan’s first Veteran’s Refuge Center, a quiet place to go to heal from the internal and external scars of war. With a focus on PTSD, the center would offer professional counseling and other various forms of therapy geared toward the total healing of mind, body, and soul.

OUR DREAM: The ideal facility includes a central campus with space for individual and group counseling rooms, large family-style dining facilities, open kitchen with space for healthy eating classes, spacious gathering room, full gym, art studio, plus staff and security offices. The veteran’s residence quarters features private rooms, shared bathroom facilities, recreation room with entertainment equipment, and full kitchen. Surrounding grounds would be spacious enough to accommodate canine and horse therapy, swimming, fishing, hiking, trails for biking, and other additional outdoor recreation.

We have done our research and we don’t believe there is any facility in Michigan that does what we will do.  There are a lot of great resources for veterans throughout the state, but none that will offer the variety of treatments and continuity of care that the Veteran’s Refuge Center will. We believe that by building our unique center, we can partner with existing resources to give veterans the care they deserve; the care that many are currently unable to get.

Sharing pizza around a conference table in a room we were allowed free use of, Laura, Jamie and I shared our vision and asked for feedback.  Rob and Cheryl Stewart asked us the tough questions we had not thought through completely, or had not thought at all.  Tim and Lisa Potter offered enthusiastic support, sharing the purpose and passion that has driven them since their son, and our friend, Zack, took his own life as a result of his battle with PTSD. Deb Hoskins gave us emotional support while writing down notes and ideas as fast as they spilled out of us.  

We discussed the strengths of our plan, the passion we share, the unique vision we have, and the understanding of the great need we have.  We acknowledged our weaknesses and inexperience, and the lack of financial resources.  And most importantly, we talked about the opportunity we have.  The opportunity to save lives.  The opportunity to reach the 120,000+ veterans in the Metro Detroit area alone. And the chance to learn from other organizations across the country that are starting similar veteran centers. They are experiencing success and we will too.

OUR NEED: The need is great, but our passion to serve is greater. Our dream is attainable, but we recognize we can’t do it alone. We believe that by joining with like-minded people who each offer a unique perspective, Veteran’s Refuge will be made all the stronger. We are extremely excited to share our vision with you and we are looking forward to the journey we are embarking on.   We are sincerely grateful for the help and support anyone is willing and able to offer.  This is not about us. We will not be successful if it becomes only about us.  But together we can make a lasting and impactful change on the lives of the veterans who have already given so much. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our vision, and please consider partnering with us in this journey. If you are interested in contributing, the Potter family has generously started a campaign for our cause, the link can be found at

-Andrew, Laura, and Jamie

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