Serving Our Nation’s Wounded Heroes!
The CJ3 Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity organization serving our Nation’s wounded Heroes – Wounded/Disabled U.S. Military Service Members, Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and Emergency/First Responders through three primary initiatives: (1) CJ3 Advocacy, (2) CJ3 Mental Health & Wellness, and (3) CJ3 Service Dogs. The CJ3 Foundation provides services, support, and advocacy to our Nation’s wounded heroes who need/require assistance and then connects them with resources and programs designed to meet their unique set of needs. The CJ3 Foundation assists them in finding both the means and opportunities to holistically improve their life outlook and reconnect with the communities they selflessly chose to serve.
The CJ3 Foundation’s Founder and Director is Eric D. Thomas, I am a 100% total and permanent disabled combat U.S. Army Veteran from the Iraq/Afghanistan war-era. I am functioning with assistance of my service dog Havoc in what is perceived by me to be a ‘dysfunctional world,’ though I fully recognize that I am the one who is perceived by the world as 'the dysfunctional one.'
I struggled my way through the Veterans Affairs maze and then began working my way through an overwhelming number of non-profit veteran organizations (VSOs) that are out there. The experience was quite frustrating, although it proved to also be quite educational. An excerpt from a NY Times article entitled, “Veterans’ Groups Compete With Each Other, and Struggle With the V.A.” by Jennifer Steinhauer, 04 January 2019 may provide historical underpinnings that help explain some of the current problems Veterans are experiencing.
For generations, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts have been as integral to American political culture as pancake breakfasts, town squares and state fairs. In advocating for veterans — among the country’s most revered and coveted voters — the groups have wielded unquestioned power on Capitol Hill and inside the White House.
Now, nearly a generation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the oldest and largest veterans’ service organizations — known colloquially as “the Big Six” — are seeing their influence diluted, as newer, smaller organizations focused on post-9/11 veterans compete for money, political influence and relevance.
The newer organizations reflect cultural shifts in a smaller community of younger and increasingly diverse veterans who are replacing the older, predominantly male veterans — many of them having served because of a draft for now long-ago wars.
Leaner and more financially efficient than their predecessors, these newer veterans’ organizations focus on issues such as education and job training rather than on brick-and-mortar meeting spaces for veterans to gather or on resources spent lobbying in Washington.
In addition, many officials of the newer organizations say, their goals are to integrate veterans back into civilian communities where they feel misunderstood and have lost ties, while helping civilians who have had little contact with veterans — active-duty troops make up less than 1 percent of the United States population — understand their experiences.
At times, the politically progressive leaders of some of the organizations — many from the Vietnam era — take positions that appear out of step with more socially conservative members from previous wars. This has irritated Robert L. Wilkie, the Veterans Affairs secretary, who views these as unwelcome partisan positions, said several agency and veterans’ group officials.
I persevered, ultimately meeting with successes in navigating the systems; I sought out and worked with legislators and seniors within the Veterans Affairs system and within the VSO groups, as well. Ultimately, I discovered that I had become an unofficial advocate for numerous disabled veterans looking for guidance and assistance. I have been helping these veterans in my personal time, often having to rely on the goodwill of other VSOs.
One of the conclusions I found going through this process is that there are not enough agencies/organizations to effectively and efficiently provide service dogs to Veterans in need. Many agencies/organizations have over a two-year waiting list/order of merit list (OML) to issue service dogs. Also, there are not many agencies/organizations who provide service dogs to Law Enforcement, Fire, Emergency/First Responders. Another significant finding is that many of these agencies/organizations only assist Veterans in a single issue; i.e. service dogs only, mental health only, physical health only, and/or R&R experiences only.
Initially, I was not real sure I wanted to start a charity as I am a husband, father, and grandfather with a full-time government job. Then it happened. I received a call from two Soldiers that used to work with me from back in my Army days. They described a disabled Veteran who was up against a wall and needed help but was unable to find it. They reached out to me because they knew I had an affinity and a heart to help Veterans in need. This was the turning point when I decided it was imperative to form the CJ3 Foundation. I, with the help of some very compassionate and hardworking friends, took on the task to help the Recipient while putting in the arduous work of building and forming the CJ3 Foundation and its support network. The CJ3 Foundation is now incorporated and is an approved 501(c)(3) public charity foundation. We have received a flood of individuals coming to the Foundation seeking assistance and we have built a “Dream Team” of wonderful individuals with a desire to help our wounded American Heroes. The CJ3 Foundation and its team is fully operational and ready to serve those who have served!
I have absolutely no desire to replicate, compete with, nor take away from, what other phenomenal Veteran support agencies/organizations are doing, rather the CJ3 Foundation attempts to augment them and assist in eliminating the backlog by providing service dogs, mental health & wellness, and advocacy to Recipients (U.S. Military Service Members, Veterans/Disabled Veterans, Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency/First Responders) who need them. We are merely filling a gap to prevent veterans in need from falling into the cracks and disappearing. We have lost too many of our brothers and sisters already!
The CJ3 Foundation focuses on the holistic approach to veteran's health and wellbeing. The CJ3 Foundation partnered with a private sector Clinical Psychologist, who is also a Health Services Provider, to focus on and improve upon the mental and emotional health of the recipients we serve; a private sector Licensed Clinical Social Worker provides advocacy services and follow up contact with Recipients for an extended period of time; and we also are partnering with hunting, fishing, and other recreational type groups to provide much needed R&R as well as the opportunity to form long-term relationships with others 'who have been there.' Finally, the CJ3 Foundation works as an interlocutor for and with other VSO's and non-profits who have like goals in order to assist veterans in need.