Our Founder, Mike Waldron, served in the initial invasion of Iraq in the Marine Corps Infantry. Five years after combat, he began experiencing severe symptoms of PTSD which lasted for years. During that time, life became very difficult and the only thing he looked forward to was going to sleep. When the Department of Veteran Affairs published a study stating 22 veterans killed themselves every day, Mike felt like he nearly became one of those 22 veterans. The next closest to this is the 23rd Veteran. Mike was not alone. Since 9/11, an estimated 3,321,125 veterans have been in his position, planning or attempting their own suicide.
23rd Veteran is a veteran who has felt death was a viable option, but who is still here and now helping others.
Creating our Unique Positive Reconditioning Program
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Our brains can change and grow with every experience, and there are ways to boost this growth. Dr. John Ratey is recognized as a world expert in Neuropsychiatry and author of the book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. His work was our first exposure to the science behind Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is a protein in our brains that aids in neuroplasticity, which means neuron changes and growth. Neuron changes and growth create our memories. We learned when a high a level of BDNF is available in our brain, we create much stronger memories. Evolutional philosophy tells us that BDNF is a survival mechanism that allows humans to remember dangerous situations much stronger than other memories, these are often called "triggers" from traumatic experiences.
Happiness is a science. We have specific chemicals released in our brain that cause us to feel joy, and lacking these chemicals can cause us to feel symptoms of depression and anxiety among others. Begining with the work of Shawn Anchor, American happiness researcher, author, and speaker known for his advocacy of positive psychology, we focus on four specific chemicals known to create happiness. Endorphins and Dopamine for short-term happiness, and Serotonin and Oxytocin for long-term joy. As humans, we cause our brain to release higher or lower levels of these chemicals through our actions and habits. We are meant to be acting in a manner that releases these chemicals on a daily basis.
Combining the Reaserch
We developed our 23V Recon program by combining strong memory building with positive psychology. After developing a team that trusts each other and feels safe together, we access our BDNF so we can create strong memories. With BDNF available we build habits that release happy chemicals and expose ourselves to common triggers of traumatic events in a fun and safe manner. The result is a happier brain that connects these common triggers to new fun safe memories, rather than a dangerous one.
"Donating to 23rd Veteran is my chance to serve those who've sacrificed so much for me".- sustaining donor