It’s a disturbing fact, but Dallas is home to more than 1,000 homeless military veterans—and the number keeps rising. Every night, the Housing Crisis Center provides housing and support services to more than 100 vets and their families.
So supporting these vets, and helping save them from a life of poverty and homelessness, was the purpose of the center’s Colors of Courage 2017 Patriot Party event Friday, November 3, at Dallas’ George W. Bush Institute.
Co-chaired by Laura and Dennis Moon, with Connie and Denny Carreker serving as honorary chairs, the fundraiser got started with a reception and silent auction in the institute’s Cross Hall. There, guests including Wendy and Boyd Messmann, Katherine Wynne, Sunie and Steve Solomon, Leslie Ann Crozier, Lisa and Clay Cooley, and Mary Martha and John Pickens were serenaded by a guitar-strumming musician singing Beatles and Eagles songs.
Then everyone repaired to the institute’s auditorium, where they were formally welcomed to the evening’s festivities by Edward Berbarie, board chairman of the Housing Crisis Center. Soon enough Edward gave way to Bush Center President and CEO Ken Hersh, who proceeded to conduct an onstage Q&A with the evening’s star attraction, retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli.
Chiarelli, the Army’s 32nd Vice Chief of Staff, was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Army and its 1.1 million active and reserve soldiers, and at one time commanded all forces in Iraq. The retired four-star general told Hersh it was then that he first observed the “hidden wounds of war” in soldiers, including the “interconnected problems” of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress.
“We’ve had these problems since war began,” Chiarelli said, “but we’re just now recognizing them.”
Chiarelli is now chief executive officer of an independent nonprofit called ONE MIND, he told Hersh. The group advocates on behalf of those affected by brain disease and injury via public-private partnerships between healthcare providers, researchers, academics, and the healthcare industry.
For example, Chiarelli said, ONE MIND is working with Abbott Laboratories, which is “developing a chip and a hand-held blood analyzer that can help tell if a person has been concussed.” He added, “We want to get drug companies involved in creating targeted drugs for these diseases … and really do something to help these veterans.”
What keeps you up at night? Hersh asked Chiarelli at one point. He replied: “Those young Americans who have suffered.”
Once the talk concluded, Sherri Ansley, executive director of the Housing Crisis Center, took to the podium and announced, “Now it’s time to have a party!” With that she invited everyone into the institute’s Hall of State, where there would be dinner, dancing, and a live auction featuring artwork, out-of-state trips, and a dinner for eight prepared by Kent Rathbun.