SISTERS, Ore., August 7, 2022 – Mission 22, an Oregon-based nonprofit, gets its name from the number of veterans who lose their lives every day by suicide. While this number comes from a report released by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs in 2013, somewhat intensified by the conflicts in the Middle East, its most recent report shows that veteran suicides continued to be an ongoing issue at a rate of 17 deaths per day.
Mission 22’s objective is to diminish this number by supporting veterans and their families with extensive, personalized wellness and sustainable growth programs consisting of everything from biometric monitoring of stress, sleep, and activity levels; to meditation and coaching; to exercise programs and a wellness supplement regimen; to books and learning resources to help veterans put their experience in context.
Since its inception in 2013, Mission 22 has served approximately 5,187 veterans and families, investing over $10 million into their programs – the flagship of these being the Recovery and Resiliency Program (or R&R for short).
A typical day-in-the life of the R&R program is waking up and journaling in a Monthly Manual, jotting down gratitudes and daily plannings, reviews, and otherwise allowing participants to get down on paper ideas that may be buzzing around in their mind. Next, members engage in some sort of morning activity organized by a Health Coach, or Post Traumatic Growth Facilitators as they’re referred to in-house. This can be anything from working out, practicing martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, to reading (members of the program are challenged to read at least a book a month).
Meditation also plays a key role in the R&R program paired with a variety of applications such as a Garmin watch app that shows sleep scores and stress levels.
“The watch is not the causal thing that helps people be able to calm down, they’re just able to see it, however we do have a device that does that,” Marcus Farris, Post Traumatic Growth Director for Mission 22, told the Lynnwood Times.
Farris was referring to NuCalm, a cutting-edge device that puts members in a parasympathetic state, the calm flowing state of the nervous system that enables the body to relax, repair, digest and so on. At the core of everything, however, is good nutrition and while the program does not supply nutrition-focused meals they do include supplements that are targeted to improving mental wellbeing such as expanding gut health and helping the body respond better to stress in general.
The Program also offers an online forum, through WorkPlace, where members can consult and encourage each other to succeed. The community aspect of the R&R program is absolutely crucial to participant’s success, Farris said.
“It will be tough. It is something you won’t want to do alone. But what I will say is you get out what you put in. It will be a challenge because making significant lifestyle changes is always a challenge but you’re going to be provided all of the resources you will possibly need,” Farris said.
The Recovery and Resiliency Program is designed to be integrated into every day life while taking all the fundamentals of healing, in a non-clinical setting, and packaging it into a single whole, Farris continued. All of the resources, the devices, the supplements, the reading material are delivered in a box and the program is conducted remotely allowing anyone in the country to participate.
Farris informed the Lynnwood Times Mission 22’s decision to launch the R&R program and other similar programs remotely was not at all influenced by the pandemic, as it was always intended to be “decentralized”.
Mission 22 is also currently in the works of expanding its R&R program to first responders and have been in communication with local police departments to hash out the details although this opportunity is still in its idea phase.
Farris has been involved in the R&R program since it launched in 2019, around the same time he obtained his Health Coach Certification and wasn’t quite sure how he wanted to utilize. He was contacted by Magnus Johnson, Chief Vision Officer and Co-Founder of Mission 22, to assist in some health coaching and was offered a full-time position about twelve weeks later.
“As company commander it’s my job to create a culture where it’s completely normalized to reach out for help…to make it normal to ask for help, to make it normal to participate in community events, to read, to self-improve, to have a higher goal that’s attractive for people to aspire to,” Farris said.
The two met while Farris was participating in a triathlon in the Portland area, where Johnson was mentoring some of the athletes. Both veterans, Johnson a former Green Beret serving 36 months in combat, and Farris serving four and a half years in Active Duty as an Engineer in Alaska, they hit it off and the rest is history. Farris still serves on reserve as an Officer and Company Commander to this day.
Aside from Johnson and Farris, Mission 22 prides itself on being a for-Veterans by-Veterans organization run by a Board of Directors who are all veterans and most of its staff being either Veterans, spouses of Veterans, or those with immediate family who have served in the U.S. military.
While the R&R program may be targeted toward veterans proper, Mission 22 offers many other programs for spouses of veterans and civilians alike.
The Elements program, for example, is a free, multimedia self-guided crash course introducing the basics of moral injury, post-traumatic stress, and the differences between PTS and PTSD, which Marcus explained is similar to a college course.
“The idea of it is, by the end of it, a lack of knowledge is no longer a barrier for making change in someone dealing with PTS,” Marcus said. “The Elements program is self-driven where the R&R program is self-driven as well, but you’re going to be challenged to join a local community and a local gym.”
More recently, Mission 22 has also dipped its toes into documentary film-making with their most recent being United We Heal, produced by AO Films, and available on Amazon.
Perhaps the greatest way to get involved in Mission 22’s cause, whether a veteran or not, is through its Ambassador Program – a group of volunteers, leaders, and active community members that help make connections and raise awareness that Veteran struggles with PTS and TBI are real, and that support is available. Ambassadors connect with communities all over the world. Currently, Mission 22 has 3,648 volunteer Ambassadors across the United States.
To learn more about the Ambassador Program, R&R, or Mission 22 in general visit https://mission22.com/.