COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The White Heart Foundation aims to serve and give back to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They help injured veterans through several programs, from mental health therapy to medical care to support groups.
“It’s so empowering, that’s why I do it. When I first met White Heart, I was in a VA mental institution for a suicide attempt in 2016,” said Jeremiah Montell, a mentor with White Heart.
Montell is just one person of many leaning on the White Heart Foundation for strength and support. The goal is to help veterans turn trauma into triumph with fellow vets by their side.
“Pain is pain. Trauma is trauma. If we can come together and share our experiences, then we can help other veterans grow and help the community around us know what we need for support,” said Montell.
The organization focuses on smaller groups, making sure to leave a huge impact on each person.
“I could give one grain of rice to 5,000 people, or I can give 5,000 grains of rice to one person. You give someone one grain of rice, that’s not going to feed them, but then you can say I helped 5,000 people,” said Ryan Sawtelle, Founder of White Heart Foundation. “In our case, we’d rather take 5,000 grains of rice and feed one person to know we are helping that one individual. So that’s the difference between us and a lot of other military charities.”
Sawtelle started the non-profit in 2008 to help the most severely injured warriors. One of his big reasons for starting the foundation was to create an organization that’s completely transparent with where donations would be going.
“You have absolute control over where your donation goes. I know in the non-profit industry a lot of people, unfortunately, get the wool pulled over their eyes on where their money is going. So, they write a check, and it goes into this black hole charity. The whole goal of White Heart is so that people know where their money is going,” said Sawtelle.
When you donate to the foundation, you pick the program you’re giving to and can learn about the vets you’re helping through rehabilitation or medical services.
“We vet out some of the really heavy cases of those who have dealt with military sexual trauma, or those who have dealt with wounds of war and have a lot of post-traumatic stress,” said Sawtelle.
The organization offers The Guardian Project which focuses on mental health therapy by taking vets on remote excursions and creating a space to work through and talk about their trauma.
“We also have the program, One Life, which is our medical program. It gets a lot of veterans out of the VA system if it’s been failing them, and we get them private medical treatment,” said Sawtelle.
In the end, The White Heart Foundation is helping veterans across the country turn their self-sacrifice into self-recovery.
“It gave me a sense of purpose, of like, I can talk about this with others and get them to open up about it, so we can heal together and build a community of support,” said Montell. “As they’re moving on with their personal and mental growth, I can be there to help support them. That’s helped motivate me and challenged me to stay on this path of self-recovery.”
“I’ve had veterans, some that are here today, tell me that we’ve saved their lives. From attempted suicides to everything else, our program has really turned that around for a lot of individuals,” said Sawtelle. “I know what we’re doing is great stuff. I don’t wanna bite off more than we can chew. I want to make certain that the people we are helping are really impacted by what we’re doing.”
To learn more about the White Heart Foundation, visit their website here.