The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has launched a $100 million campaign to build nine National Intrepid Spirit Center of Excellence (NICoE ) Satellite Centers at key locations across the country. Each center will be approximately 25,000 square feet in size and will have a construction budget of about $11 million. The funds for these centers will be provided entirely by donations from public and private sources.
The NICoE is a Department of Defense institute “dedicated to providing cutting-edge evaluation, treatment planning, research and education for service members and their families dealing with the complex interactions of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological health (PH) conditions.”
The first two Intrepid Spirit centers opened in Fall of 2013 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. And a groundbreaking ceremony for the fifth NICoE facility at Fort Hood, Texas, was held on June 12, 2014.
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Commanding General of the III Corps and Fort Hood, commented during the ceremonies that roughly 40,000 Soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, a large number of whom have already seen combat, will benefit immensely from the treatment available at the Intrepid Spirit Center. Milley reported between 5,000 and 8,000 Fort Hood Soldiers, are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, known as TBI, and post-traumatic stress (PTS). He said, "The unseen, the psychological and psychiatric injuries that we see in our Soldiers today, those last a lifetime. This facility is being put here specifically to treat those issues for those Soldiers."
One Austin Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran (Sgt) concurred: “When I returned in 1970 from a tour in Vietnam, PTSD didn't even exist as a diagnosis. My adjustment to civilian life even now has never been complete. Twenty-six difficult years after my return, I was finally diagnosed with PTSD and only then did I begin to receive much needed psychological treatment.
“However, by then permanent damage had been done. It's so important that returning troops get immediate help, so as not to have life pass them by. I speak from experience so a center devoted to the treatment of veterans of TBI and PTSD has long been needed.”
Two organizations are contributing efforts towards making these facilities a reality. The Fisher House Foundation, a sister organization to NICoE, already has existing houses at each of its proposed locations throughout the country. These houses will accommodate the families of the patients at NICoE Satellite Centers. (Note: 7 out of 48 Fisher Houses are located in Texas, including Fort Hood).
And on January 7, 2014, The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation donated $500,000 to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to jumpstart the construction of these National Intrepid Centers of Excellence.
Veterans are pleased that these centers are finally being built. As the Marine Corps sergeant from Austin said, many of us still suffer from what we now know is a lifetime affliction with PTSD. We can now see that today's soldiers can obtain the help that was not available to us after we completed our service to our country.