I hope that you enjoyed a memorable Christmas holiday with friends and family and are looking forward to a wonderfully hope filled New Year in 2020.
Thank you so much for your ongoing financial and prayerful support throughout 2019 for Operation Restored Warrior’s (ORW) critically important mission to save the lives of our nation’s veterans and active duty warriors.
I recently read the newest Veteran Affairs Mental Health Report (dated 20 September 2019) on veteran suicides for the period of 2008-2017. This alarming report said that our nation is losing over 600 veterans who have worn our nation’s military uniforms annually to suicide, totaling over 60,000 veteran suicides in those last 10 years. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the men and women lost during the Vietnam war. That is unacceptable as a nation.
The good news is what ORW is doing about this suicide epidemic affecting our veterans and what I want to tell you about is how much your support has helped ORW move forward in restoring the lives of our nation’s veterans.
My team and I have developed, tested, and presented our newly developed 2-Day Drop Zone for men and 2-Day Veteran and Spouses Women’s Programs 12 times (72 participants) this year with resounding success. Our senior team presented two facilitator training programs for the men’s and women’s programs this fall and resulted in three new men’s Drop Zone facilitators and four new women’s 2-Day Women’s Program facilitators. Our main 5-Day Drop Zone was presented to 66 veterans and continues to restore our veterans at a rate of 100%. We have seen the same results with the women participating in their 2-Day programs.
In May, we were extremely honored by the invitation of the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) to participate in the filming of the 7-part series called “When the Light Comes” that featured one of the biggest bands in Christian music today, Big Daddy Weave. We can be seen here presenting our 2-Day Drop Zone with Mike Weaver and his band on Episode 6: http://watch.tbn.tv/videos/
ORW was also blessed to celebrate our 10th Anniversary Reunion at the 4 Eagle Ranch with Big Daddy Weave performing a concert just for the ORW alumni. It was an amazing gift to all who were in attendance.
In August, Mike Weaver, the lead vocal and songwriter of Big Daddy Weave published his first book entitled, “Redeemed” based on the platinum bestselling single of the same name. Mike shared about his life’s journey along with he and his brother Jay’s participation in a 5-Day Drop Zone that had a profound affect on them both. ORW is featured in the last four chapters.
There were several changes and curve balls that took place in 2019 that included a health scare for me. I was officially diagnosed in January with Atrial Fibulation (AFib). As a former medic, fairly fit, and having purchased the new iWatch 4 with the cardiac app on it, I thought that that is really not a big deal because millions of folks have had to deal with that heart condition…until my heart stopped in the back of an ambulance! With the paramedic on top of me with defibrillator paddles at 11 and 4 on my chest ready to zap me, my heart started right back up on its own and I was sent home with some medications to slow my heart rate down. I’m good to go…until the next time my heart rate went through the ceiling and it stopped again! This was such an inconvenience, I thought! Well, after five more “cardiac pauses” (that’s what they call your heart stopping now), a dear friend had me speak with a friend of his who happened to be a top electro cardiologist in Baltimore. After sending the doctor several ECG strips in a PDF form from my iWatch, he called me back immediately to tell me that I needed to have surgery…yesterday! Still not believing that I couldn’t fix this on my own or with Jesus’ help, I told him that I would think about his offer. Apparently, the doctor didn’t like my response so…he told me that there are four types of cardiac arrhythmias and according to my iWatch ECG’s, I was showing three of them and the next “cardiac pause” might not be a “pause” but a complete “stop”! The funny thing about my heart problem was, I’m in the spiritual heart healing ministry! That’s what we do with our veterans at a Drop Zone program. Still wondering why Jesus isn’t healing me…that night I woke up angrily asking him why? I heard him say…” who do you think sent that doctor to you?” The next morning, I scheduled the surgical procedure and a week later I was in surgery having my heart physically restored by the hands of a very gifted surgeon and his team. Apparently, I had all four of those cardiac arrhythmias and I’m happy to report, all four were repaired and I’m doing very well. Two days later, I was flying back to Colorado getting ready to present another 5-Day Drop Zone.
ORW was contacted in September by Congresswoman Hartzler from Missouri who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and currently chairing a congressional subcommittee addressing a spiritual approach to veteran PTSD and suicide prevention. Her team had heard about the life-changing work that ORW has been doing (without any government support) behind the scenes for the past 11 years and wanted to invite our leadership team to attend an official Congressional Roundtable with several members of Congress in December.
My team and I arrived in Washington DC to participate with only two other faith based veteran programs. I had invited fellow alumnus and Founder/Inventor of MyPillow, Mike Lindell to participate in the roundtable discussions. Mike is a major supporter of ORW having experienced first-hand the impact that attending a 5-Day Drop Zone can have on a person. His testimony to the Congressional Roundtable was so powerful stating that “there is no better program available in our nation today to address the veteran suicide epidemic than ORW’s Drop Zone programs!” The congressional representatives took notice to Mike’s words. Mike Lindell has an amazing autobiography book entitled “What Are The Odds”, being released in January 2020 featuring his extraordinary life story and sharing about his restoration experience at the ORW Drop Zone in the last chapter of his book. We are so honored to be included in Mike Lindell’s journey of hope and possibility.
While in DC, we had several meetings with congressional leaders to include: Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Chairwoman of the Veterans Faith Based PTSD Committee, and several other Congressmen. We were set to meet with Senator Inhofe, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but met with his chief of staff and scheduled a future meeting in January with Senator’s Inhofe, Bozeman, and Langsford, all on the Senate Armed Services Committee to tell them about how ORW is saving the lives of our veterans and what they can do to support our efforts.
We were invited by the Deputy Secretary of the United States Treasury, Monica Crowley (who was until her nomination by President Trump, an ORW Board of Directors member) to meet her at the Treasury Department. Monica is a remarkable leader and dear friend to ORW and me personally.
Asst. Secretary Crowley set up a private evening visit to the West Wing of the White House with Jared Kushner’s administrative assistant as our guide. We had the privilege of seeing so many historic areas of the White to include the Situation Room, the President’s Navy Dining Mess, the Roosevelt Room, the President’s Cabinet Meeting Room, the Rose Garden, and the absolutely amazing Oval Office. We were also invited into the White House Press Room where we had the opportunity to take some fun photos of the team “posing” as White House Press Secretaries. It was a memorable visit that will have a lasting impact on my team and me. We will be posting photos of our memorable visit to Washington, DC on our website soon.
Finally, Troy (team member and a retired Marine 1st Sergeant with eight combat tours) and I had a private meeting with the Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly to talk about how ORW can help the Navy and Marines with addressing the high suicide rates in both services. Secretary Modly gave ORW access to the Navy’s Chief of Chaplains as well as the Navy and Marines senior leadership. The Secretary presented Troy and me with his personal lapel pin and his thanks for all that ORW has and will continue to do for our active duty and veterans.
I recently received two letters of appreciation from members of Congress for ORW’s impact on our nation’s veterans along with a beautiful House of Representatives Christmas ornament from Congresswoman Hartzler.
I hope that this long but important update provides you with an overview and a personal view of what your kind and generous financial and spiritual support has meant ORW and the heroes that we serve daily to accomplish our mission in 2019.
As you know, I never ask for donations throughout the year, however, as the year comes to a close, would you please consider an additional tax-deductible donation to ORW? As long as your check is dated and the envelope postmarked before the end of 2019, you will receive a tax deduction for 2019.
My pledge to you is to be the best steward of those generous resources that you’ve entrusted ORW with. Thank you so very much.
Abundant Blessings in 2020,
Paul Lavelle, CMSgt, USAF, (Ret.), MSC
Operation Restored Warrior