In today’s Military and Veteran non-profit climate, it is important to me that you have a clear understanding of who and what Purple Star Veterans and Families is.
Veterans’ non-profit scams abound; not only hurting those who truly need assistance the most but also damaging the ability of reputable non-profits to build trust and understanding in order to achieve their missions. Purple Star’s mission is two-fold:
- Offering preventative strengths-based programming to support successful transition from military service to civilian life for active duty Service Members, Veterans, and their families, and
- Honoring and remembering fallen active duty Service Members and Veterans who have died by suicide and other means (such as vehicular accidents while under duress, adrenaline-seeking behavior, drugs and alcohol) as a result of emotional or physical trauma related to military service.
Purple Star Veterans and Families (PSVF) is a California-registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization (EIN 20-2888521) dedicated to ‘Honoring the Fallen and Supporting Transition’ after U.S. military service. Purple Star was founded in 2004 as the “Veterans and Families Foundation” by Danny Facto, a Purple Heart Recipient/OEF Army Combat Veteran and his father, John Henry Parker, a former peacetime Marine. In 2009 Danny was killed in a high speed “adrenaline-seeking” motorcycle accident while suffering from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. Shortly after Danny’s death, Purple Star was created as a project of the Veterans and Families Foundation. In 2015, our organization and program offerings were completely overhauled and the name “Veterans and Families Foundation” was formally changed to “Purple Star Veterans and Families”.
Purple Star’s Board and Staff are comprised of Veterans from different war and peacetime eras, Active Duty and Veteran family members, and several of us have lost loved ones to the painful scourge that is suicide. Our experiences are real, we are honest and caring people (and professionals), and we are passionate about our mission to serve and our drive to find ways to reduce the number of Service Member and Veteran suicides. We believe in planning and research, the use and proliferation of our personal development tools, and working with other reputable organizations. We know that no one organization can make as great of an impact alone. Those of us involved in this fight need each other, and to work together to have our voices heard! We must demand strategies along the “continuum of transition”; both into and out of the military back into civilian life that make a tangible impact on the well-being of those undertaking the journey.
Why Is Purple Star Important?
There is currently no existing Congressionally chartered civilian sector “star” designation to honor the families of those lost to suicide (and other means such as drug and alcohol abuse or accidents caused by adrenaline-seeking behaviors) as a result of trauma caused by military service, or any chartered organization for Veterans and their immediate and extended family members who are currently navigating the trials of homecoming akin to Blue Star Mothers of America (established in 1942) and the American Gold Star Mothers (established in 1917).
We are currently gathering support for bi-partisan draft legislation that will establish a Congressionally mandated ‘Purple Star Pin’ for those lost to suicide.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. It is my sincerest hope that some of the questions you may still have can be answered in the primer I’ve put together for you below. If not, please feel free to contact me.
In sincerest thanks,
Teresa “Tess” Banko
PSVF: A Primer
We have different web destinations for our different target audiences: www.psvf.org (for Friends and Families of the Fallen and supporters), www.purplestarveterans.org (for Active Duty and Veteran clients), and in late 2016 we will offer a website with information and resources specifically tailored to families.
Because we serve clients nationally and to cut down on operating costs and overhead, we allow our staff to “work in place” and attend mandatory weekly progress meetings. Our Board meets bi-annually. Our physical Los Angeles mailing address that is listed is to a postal service that receives and electronically transmits mail to all responsible parties, but Purple Star was originally born as a brick and mortar “chapter model” organization in Colorado.
PSVF’s Program Offerings
- Families and Friends of the Fallen Program: Specifically for those who have suffered the pain of loss. Our virtual Memorial Wall serves as a place where families and friends alike can come together to share photos, stories and memories of their loved ones. National Registry of the Fallen where the next of kin of active duty Service Members and Veterans who have died from suicide or other means (such as vehicular accidents, adrenaline-seeking behavior, drugs and alcohol) as a result of emotional and physical trauma related to military service can register as part of an effort to unite families in being heard and counted.
- Purple Star Flags Program: Offers free flag packets to active duty Service Members and Veterans in transition (our purple flag packets), as well as to Friends and Families of the Fallen (our gold flag packets). To sign up for a free flag visit www.psvf.org.
- Peer Advisor Program: Our trained Peer Advisors (who are Veterans) answer requests submitted via the purplestarveterans.org web portal and via phone in order to offer one-on-one, personalized short-term assistance (4-6 one hour sessions) to Veterans and their families. In the future, we hope to be able to offer stipends for long-term mental health counseling and emergency financial assistance. Our Peer Advisors utilize a positive, personal development approach as supported by our own Transition Map and Action Plan and Communication Survey. Their mission is to help clients re-establish their mission, identity, meaning, and purpose after military service and to connect them with relevant and vetted resources to ease transition to civilian life.
In the Works:
- Building a coalition of support for Purple Star Pin legislation. (If you would like to submit a letter of support please email Tess Banko at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- The completion of our Families Program and website
- Getting the word out about our mission and re-structured programs
- Fundraising drive to staff our re-structured programs and to cover operating expenses