According to the National Institutes of Health, Department of Veteran Affairs, and Sidran Institute, the societal and economic burden of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is substantial. PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults in a given year, though the disorder can develop at any age, including childhood.
The Honor Alliance, formed in May 2018 as a 501c3 charity organization, focusing on helping those with PTSD and their families through peer support groups and connecting with other resources. The group also offers recreational programs such as fly-fishing, fly-casting and fly-tying classes, family retreats, hiking, equine therapy, and training on how to start a veteran-owned business.
Simone Hawthorne, executive director at the Alliance, shared how PTSD has affected her family personally, and how her husband Kenneth Hawthorne, a Desert Storm combat veteran and president of the organization, is 100 percent disabled due to PTSD.
“We as a family are ‘riding the roller coaster’ of PTSD daily,” she admitted. “Our marriage almost broke because of untreated PTSD and lack of knowledge on my part. I’ve been volunteering for years now for veterans and their families, and served as the president of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, service officer for Vietnam Veterans of America, and board member of the Four State Community Veterans Engagement Board. We want to help others who are going through the same thing we went through.”
The Honor Alliance initially began in Simone’s head, but she’s inspired that the rest of the team is just as passionate as she is. Participants include veterans of Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, spouses, and addiction survivors. They want to help those in need to realize they can come out at the other end, living a full life.
Mission and Vision
The PTSD peer support group and recreational programs are the core of the organizational offerings—at no cost. The group desires to include everyone who needs support because they understand that trauma can happen in many different situations. The Alliance also welcomes first responders and their families to their programs—not all PTSD is a result of war. The mission is to honor and stand with those in need.
“Untreated PTSD can lead to suicide, drug addiction, divorce, and more,” said Hawthorne. “It’s important to us to get to families before anything worse happens. As far as I am aware, there is no other group in the Martinsburg area that offers PTSD peer support groups for veterans, active duty, first responders, and their families. And we’re always looking for volunteers to help us fundraise since most of the funds at the moment come out of pocket. We are also looking for free office space or meeting rooms.”
The Honor Alliance vision statement indicates: “It is our vision that one day, everyone that needs a helping hand will be comfortable to ask for it without being afraid of the stigma that most people see with mental illness.”