There was a time in the late 1960s and early 1970s when being a member of the ROTC wasn’t exactly cool compared to being on the football team. And then there was the country’s attitude about Vietnam that only heightened the non-cool factor.
But there were those who recognized the need of the military and appreciated the structure and commitment by those serving the country. One of those was the son of a meat cutter in Magnolia, Washington. The boy’s name was Peter Chiarelli and not only did he sign up for the Seattle University Army ROTC, he was recognized as the school’s Distinguished Military Graduate.
And while others went on to office jobs, Peter was commissioned a second lieutenant at the age of 22. Over the years, he served in the United States, Germany, Belgium and the Middle East. As commanding general of 1st Calvary Division, he led it in the Iraq War and during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, as well as serving as commanding general of Multi-National Corps – Iraq.
For his years of services, he was named Vice-Chief of Staff for the Army and received numerous awards. But during his 40 years of service, he admitted that while he was prepared for injuries like the “loss of limbs and nasty injuries,” he became all too aware of the invisible injuries — “traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.”
Unlike a heart attack or a stroke that can be detected through bloodwork and physical examination, the injuries to the mind are stealth.
According to Peter, “By 2012, the rate of post-traumatic stress was 65%.” The 2014 Defense Department Suicide Event Report revealed that “the U.S. Army [was] having the highest suicide rate among the services at 23.8% per 100,000 soldiers.”
This concern for those suffering from these “invisible wounds” led Peter to take on a new mission following his retirement from the Army in 2012. He became CEO of One Mind, “a nonprofit dedicated to speeding up research and finding better diagnosis and treatment for brain-injured soldiers and civilians.”
According to One Mind, PTS occurs in 11-20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
In addition to the challenge and stigma of PTS, the returning vets often become victims of homelessness due to their mental conditions. Like Peter and One Mind, North Texas’ Housing Crisis Center recognizes that vets suffering from post-traumatic stress need support. For this reason, HCC has developed the Programs Serving Primarily Veterans that include:
- Veterans Housing Partnership — providing permanent supportive housing with intensive case management for homeless, disabled veterans and their families.
- Permanent Housing Services — providing permanent supportive housing with intensive case management for chronically homeless disabled adults, primarily veterans.
- All Citizens Empowered — a permanent supportive housing program for families and individuals in which heads-of-the-household has a disabling mental condition. Half of the clients in the program are veterans.
On the evening of Friday, November 3, Peter will join forces with Housing Crisis Center for the 2017 Patriot Party – Colors Of Courage at the George W. Bush Institute to benefit the Housing Crisis Center.
Joining Co-Chairs Laura and Dennis Moon will be Honorary Co-Chairs Connie and Denny Carreker and a host committee made up of Stacy and Jeff Blakeley, Holly Bock, Jennifer and Scott Chandler, Alesia Coffman Turner, Ashley and Danny Ellis, Megan Flanagan, Nancy Gopez, Cathy Hodges, Catherine Howell, Laura and Brent Jorgenson, April and Russ Lambert, Kelly and John Ledford, Lynn and Allan McBee, Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Mary Martha and John Pickens, Sandy Schwan, Heidi and Cole Snadon, Sunie and Steve Solomon, Cindy Stager, Leisa Street, Jimmy Westcott and Katherine Wynne.
Tickets start at $250 and are available here for the evening of cocktails, buffet dinner, live entertainment and Peter, of course.
* Graphic and photo provided by Housing Crisis Center