Dear Friend and Supporter,

A few years ago my wife and I were enjoying a drink at a bar in Puerto Rico when I heard some explosions outside. I reflexively dove under the table for safety. It turned out to be only kids shooting off fireworks, but it still triggered my worst fears and it took me several hours to calm down. This is just one of the ways PTSD affected me; for many Veterans it’s much much worse!

URGENT: Bridge the Gap of Georgia desperately needs your help! Because of a lack of funds, we’ve been forced to shut down two of our Residential Centers for Veterans with PTSD. Plus, if we do not raise $4,984.00 by the end of December, we will be forced to close our last operating center – putting several men on the streets. Please make an emergency gift today by clicking here so that we may continue to serve the Veterans who served our country.

For years I couldn’t walk into a Walmart or even pull into a parking lot without doing a perimeter check for terrorists. Cardboard boxes on the side of the road set off alarms in my mind that it might be a bomb. And, any loud noise would spark my anxiety. I was always on the alert.

I know it’s hard for anyone who hasn’t been in combat to fully understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but think of it this way. Have you ever experienced a tragic event? Perhaps the unexpected loss of a loved one? You know how it’s just so awful that you can’t wrap your mind around it. Your brain tries to process it, but can’t. It’s like a never ending movie running in your mind 24/7. You can’t sleep; you can’t focus; you can’t get anything done. Multiply that times 100 for what our Veterans with PTSD are experiencing. And, without help their lives fall apart.

I was one of the lucky ones. If it had not been for the intense support of my family and friends, and a lot of counseling, I would probably be homeless today. It took me five years, but today – I can’t say that I’ve recovered – but I have learned techniques for coping. Now I’m giving back and helping other Veterans learn how to transition back into society.

That’s where Bridge the Gap comes in. We serve Veterans who have fallen in the cracks and are forced to wait for VA benefits because of bureaucracy and red tape. BTG was created to assist Veterans who suffer from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Combat Stress, and homelessness. We utilize a mentorship program to enable these Veterans who are socially impaired to function as productive members of our society.

BTG works directly with the Veterans on a one-on-one basis – we are NOT a call center. No one in our organization collects a salary – everyone works on a volunteer basis. We don’t tell Veterans where to go get help; WE ARE THE HELP. We provide food, shelter, and educational assistance directly to as many Veterans as we can afford. There is no tedious or confusing application process. If we have space available in one of our residential centers, a Veteran is invited to come live with us that very same day.

But Friend, the situation is alarming. If we don’t receive needed funds immediately, it will mean an end of BTG in Georgia. Please click to send a tax-deductible gift today!

Thank you,                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Keith Laseter
Executive Director
352-817-7003

P.S. Because PTSD is so misunderstood, many Americans don’t realize how important it is to provide assistance to our battle worn Veterans. Please help us by sending a gift today – no matter how small – you can help save vital BTG programs. Your support assures our Veterans will get the help they need to return to productive life again.

P.P.S. If you would like to know more about BTG, please scroll down.

FACTS ABOUT BRIDGING THE GAP OF GEORGIA

• BTG is a 501(c) (3) organization so your Gift is Tax Deductible.
• BTG is a mentorship based program to work with veterans in preparing them for their greatest opportunity for success.
• BTG identifies veterans who are at risk at falling through the cracks of society.
• BTG provides an opportunity for veterans through a caring mentor to improve their ability to develop a positive attitude towards their future.
• The goal of BTG is to empower the veteran to function in society as a productive member, able to support themself and their families.
• BTG works to raise the awareness of this mentorship program to agencies, businesses, corporations and adult learning facilities.
• BTG helps to create jobs for veterans unable to be employed due to lack of skills, education, work history or criminal history.
• Beginning with a referral from an agency, court system, or referral service to BTG, the veteran completes an intake package. This intake package will identify emergency needs, as well as, identify secondary needs.
• Re-entry is the process where stable housing is secured or verified and basic human needs are provided for. In this part of the program, the veteran is introduced to a peer mentor who will shadow the veteran and assist the veteran into developing appropriate social skills and mannerism to re-enter society. This is the transition process from an institutional setting to permanent housing.
• Identification stage is where the veteran works with a mentor to identify needs. This identification process will focus on housing needs, medical needs, psychiatric services, employment, resume writing, education and personal development. Through this identification process, the veteran can look at various resources within their community to access.
• The mentor will assist the veteran through a “Systems Navigator”. A Systems Navigator will work with the veteran to assist them in identifying programs and completing the forms. Often in human services, there are barriers that bar people from the services that they need. These barriers are often based on education and the self- induced trauma through homelessness. The system navigator will work with the veteran to provide them with the “how to” to achieve the experience needed to allow the system to work for them and utilize the resources available.
• Development of a plan with targeted time frames that can be examined is next. Through this development, the mentor will work with the veteran in Systems Navigation. However the mentor will not place the calls or complete the forms for the veteran. The veteran will be responsible for completing those in a mode of self-sufficiency. The mentor will shadow to enhance the participants confidence, competency, and skills set.
• Goals will be identified and the necessary steps to be taken to complete the targeted goals. Through the goal stage, the veteran will have to identify short term, mid-range and long term goals. Through this venue, the peer mentor can identify for the veteran that they are on-track with their goals or off-track. Short term goals might be any type of Employment opportunities: whereas, a long term goal might be to complete a C.D.L. certification for improved employment.
• Entry stage is where a veteran will secure viable employment and re-integrate into the recovering community through the assistance of a mentor.
• Society welcomes the veteran as a productive member of their community and be able to financially support themself and their families in a meaningful way.

FOCUS OF BRIDGING THE GAP OF GEORGIA:
• Veterans overcoming stressors in their lives, such as abusive situations, addiction, unstable homes, lack of a supporting network, and poverty.
• BTG programs allow positive changes through goal-setting, self-discipline, skill development and healthy relationships.
• BTG is marketed in Atlanta and throughout Georgia as a major networking system among veterans, mentors, and referral agencies.

TARGET GROUP OF BTG:
• Veterans who are suffering with Post Dramatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Severe Depression and other types of Combat Stress.
• Veterans that have developed destructive habits that lead to a path of hopelessness or homelessness.
• Veterans who are having difficulties getting their proper benefits from the Veterans Administration.

Our nation understands that the men and women who defend our constitution across multiple continents have experiences that can be difficult to process. PSTD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Depression and Anxiety are responses to abnormal situations our military members are sometimes placed in. Veterans who feel mental pain associated with their service to our nation, whenever they left the military can find help at Bridging The Gap. Not knowing where you’ll sleep at night, having no place to keep your belongings, not having the ability to care for yourself or family, leads to stress, anger, shame, depression, guilt and loneliness. These are the invisible wounds that cause our heroes to live a life of despair and decay. Left unaddressed it worsened until there is no hope. Bridging The Gap provides counseling to help with managing anger, building communication, recognizing stress and trauma. We discuss with the veteran individually and in group helping them to cope with issues relating to stress, nightmares, anger, shame, and depression. BTG helps them to take action to address issues that is preventing them from having a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.

At least 53% of returning veterans meet the criteria for suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Depression. 57% of our veterans haven’t been evaluated. It can take up to five years for a veteran to get approved for their VA benefits. Many of our veterans don’t know how to or become discouraged in trying to cut through all the red tape confronting them trying to get their benefits, especially, if it was other than an honorable discharge. With no source of income or insurance for treatment their condition worsens. We collaborate with physicians, psychologists and pharmacies to obtain in-kind contributions or subsidize or purchase critical healthcare and necessary prescriptions until their VA benefits are activated. This eliminates the need or desires for veterans to self-medicate to deal with mental and emotional trauma. When they reside in our residential centers we administer the medication to ensure its not being abused.

BTG’s “VetCare” Health & Wellness Program provides

resources to obtain physical, mental and emotional care that helps veterans develop coping mechanisms and supports reintegration into their families and communities. This care contributes to BTG’s success in reducing homelessness.