Episode 4: Helping our Veterans with Mental Health
In this episode of The Veterans Voice, our host Amanda Mineer is joined by Gretchen Smith. She is the founder of Code of Vets, a non-profit organization that continues to provide all kinds of support to veterans all across the country. Gretchen Smith is an air force veteran that served over four and a half years. Three of these years in the air force were spent overseas in Germany. She grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and talked about how she may not have been great for the air force, but that it was undoubtedly the right thing for her.
Gretchen mentions that the tools and trades she learned during this time helped her become more stable and a valued asset to the United States—eventually using her GI bill to amass four college degrees and craft her American dream with her husband. Her father, a Vietnam veteran who served for four years himself. Unfortunately, he was lost to his battle with PTSD, which became the inspiration for the Code of Vets non-profit. He is the reason she continues to be out there every day, utilizing social media platforms to reach out and help as many veterans as possible.
She mentions her father’s battle with PTSD, saying that he realized that he needed help although he was struggling. Doctors told him that he had something they called “shell-shocked” and that he was “basically meant to suck it up and be a man.” Gretchen says that through sharing her dad’s journey and lack of care with veterans, she has saved and transformed many veterans’ lives. Code of Vets serves as her and her father’s legacy as his story continues to help many veterans.
Gretchen talks about veterans finally starting to seek help after all this time, going over why some would refuse assistance or deny that there was ever a problem. Either out of shame or being told not to speak about it. But as society and people become more accepting and understanding, these vets can finally get the help they need without worrying about judgment. We continue to go over how Gretchen has built her non-profit for years, even starting as a Twitter page.
While listening to the many struggles these veterans have been fighting and will keep fighting until they win their battles, we understand that being there for our veterans can make all the difference. This episode is a must-watch for any veterans or people with loved ones that have served, who have mental health on their minds.