Feature Article: The Importance of Full Circle Healing for Veterans

By Sara Johnson, CEO — Mission 22

About Sara Johnson

A Daughter of the Revolution (with family members having served in every conflict since the revolutionary war), Sara has taken up the family torch with an innovative approach to aiding veterans. Growing up in a family of warriors, she has seen firsthand the way battle affects those who serve – from the positive aspects of being part of a community to the realities of post-traumatic stress. What started as a personal mission to support her Green Beret husband through his own struggles with transitioning out of the military, has turned into a national charge to end Veteran suicide in America.

About Mission 22

Mission 22 provides support to Veterans and their families when they need it most: right now. Through a comprehensive approach of outreach, events, and programs, we’re promoting long-term wellness and sustainable growth.

Veterans who are injured in their service deserve every bit of praise they receive for their sacrifice, but there is a type of injury we cannot see from the outside: trauma.

Trauma leaves an invisible scar on the individual who suffers from it, but it will slowly take hold of their lives and make it increasingly difficult for them to go about their daily activities in a normal way. However, there is hope in support programs that provide veterans with the resources they need to survive.

Support for veterans with invisible wounds

For many veterans who do choose to seek assistance, the resources they need are unfortunately not available to them when they need it the most: right now. The VA is understaffed and overloaded, with a backlog of hundreds of thousands of claims preventing many veterans from receiving the care they need — and have earned through their service.

This waiting period inhibits them from getting the support and care they need, only adding to the stress and issues they are already facing. Nonprofits such as Mission 22 strive to reduce the time veterans must wait to receive the help they need.

Mission 22 programs focus on not only the mental aspects of healing from trauma but the physical ones as well. The Recovery + Resiliency (R+R) Program at Mission 22 has been carefully curated not just for veterans, but also their spouses. It’s a unique initiative that beautifully intertwines age-old principles of human healing with the advancements of modern science.

In this program, we couple essential wellness practices with structured educational guidance, delivered through a series of assignments and sustained courses. This approach effectively reframes the physical and psychological environment for our participants, both veterans and their spouses. As a result, they’re consistently equipped with the knowledge and resources required to progress toward wellness, never feeling adrift or uncertain about the next step in their journey.

We acknowledge that the wounds from the past may never fully disappear. However, the R+R Program empowers participants to transform their trauma into a formidable force against despair and hopelessness, helping them, and their spouses, carve out a path of resilience, recovery, and hope.

Providing support for veterans’ families

It is important to recognize the fundamental role that a veteran’s family plays in their recovery process. As those who share the closest bonds with veterans, their spouses and immediate family members often bear witness to the aftermath of trauma and its cascading effects. Living with a veteran navigating the challenges of post-traumatic stress (PTS) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be daunting, and these family members are equally deserving of support.

Our approach focuses on equipping these individuals with the skills and support they need, both to manage their own difficulties and to aid their loved ones who have served. In crisis situations, family members often serve as the most trusted support system for veterans. By providing them with the necessary resources and skills to offer effective support — even if it’s just being a reliable shoulder to lean on — we can help prevent or mitigate potential crises.

Our mission at Mission 22 is to instill hope and provide guidance to veterans and their families during challenging times. Accomplishing this requires a comprehensive approach that considers the individual’s emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. It’s these interlocking elements that ultimately heal the invisible wounds of trauma that military service can leave behind. By addressing the needs of veterans and their families in unison, we’re cultivating an environment of healing that acknowledges and addresses the complexity of their journey.