Melwood Veterans Services Among the 2018 Recipients of a Capacity Building Grant Awarded by the Disabled Veterans National Foundation
May 11, 2018
Grant funding will directly support the unique needs of disabled and injured veterans throughout the nation.
UPPER MARLBORO, Md., May 11, 2018 — Melwood Veterans Services, LLC (MVS) is proud to announce it has been awarded $10,000 to continue helping warfighters reintegrate into society. The grant was awarded by the Disabled Veterans National Foundation’s (DVNF) Capacity Building Grant Program. Grants are given to organizations committed to helping address the mental and physical recovery of veterans in unique ways.
Melwood Veterans Services is an affiliate of Melwood, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the Washington metropolitan area providing job opportunities for people of differing abilities, as well as support services for veterans and their families.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all protocol for how veterans overcome the impacts of war,” says Retired Brigadier General David Blackledge, Executive Vice President of Melwood Veterans Services. “And because of this, we place great emphasis on consistently evaluating our Operation Tohidu® program. Tohidu® is an experiential and educational retreat program specifically for veterans and their families. Warfighters who attend the 5-day program often come to us feeling broken, disillusioned, and disheartened. The grant allows us to continue helping veterans navigate their own way back into a normal life.”
Operation Tohidu® is run by veterans who understand all too well the effects of post-traumatic stress. General Blackledge was wounded twice during successive combat tours in Iraq, making him intimately familiar with the effects of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
“DVNF is proud to support Melwood Veterans Services as they continue to make a positive impact in veterans lives by helping veterans to navigate their own way back into a normal life through their Operation Tohidu program” said DVNF CEO Joseph VanFonda (USMC Sgt. Maj. Ret.). “We would like to congratulate and thank them for their commitment to serving the men and women who served in defense of our country.”
The program has served hundreds of veterans from over 38 states across the nation since its inception three years ago. Operation Tohidu® is concerned with post-traumatic growth, which is why participants are encouraged to acknowledge their trauma with fellow warriors. The “by choice” adventure-based activities and group exercises form the backbone of the retreat experience, making it appealing to veterans coping with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other service-related traumas. Activities include mindfulness techniques, yoga, meditation, goal-setting, opportunities for artistic expression, challenge courses, and equine-assisted techniques.
“Tohidu” is a Cherokee word that means peace of mind, body, and spirit.
Melwood is an AbilityOne organization, and one of the largest non-profit employers of people of differing abilities in the Northeast U.S. Melwood has a highly competitive and inclusive workforce, providing a range of services to federal, state, and local governments, and the private sector. Using an innovative and effective social entrepreneurial model, Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,100 people each year in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also provides recreation opportunities through seasonal inclusive camp programs for children and adults of and without differing abilities. In addition, Melwood provides employment and support services to veterans coping with a variety of service-related traumas, such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, abuse, and more. Melwood employs more than 1,500 workers, including nearly 800 persons of a differing ability. Since 1963, the 501(c)(3) organization has envisioned a world in which people of differing abilities are fully included by advocating for and empowering them to transform their own lives through unique opportunities to work and play in the community. For more information, visit www.Melwood.org.
About the Disabled Veterans National Foundation:
Disabled Veterans National Foundation exists to provide critically needed support to disabled and at-risk veterans who leave the military wounded—physically or psychologically—after defending our safety and freedom.
DVNF achieves this mission by:
- offering direct financial support to veteran organizations that address the unique needs of veterans, and whose missions align with that of DVNF;
- providing supplemental assistance to homeless and low-income veterans through the Health & Comfort program and various empowerment resources;
- providing an online resource database that allows veterans to navigate the complex process of seeking benefits that they are entitled to as a result of their military service, as well as additional resources they need; and
- serving as a thought leader on critical policy issues within the veteran community, and educating the public accordingly.
Melwood is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities in the country, employing more than 1,600 workers – nearly 1,000 of whom are people with disabilities. Melwood offers job placement, job training, life skills for independence, and support services to more than 2,500 people each year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Melwood also has an inclusive summer camp program for children and provides employment and support services to veterans and active-duty military members who have experienced service-related trauma or injury. For more information, visit www.Melwood.org.
Vice President of Government and Public Relations