What Connects Veteran Suicides, the CrazyBillionDollarGuy and Masses of Flowers?
His vision for veterans is: “Zero Suicides, Homeless, Jobless, Uncared For, Feeling Alone & Abandoned.”
Why is Steve Durgin called the “CrazyBillionDollarGuy?”
Could it be because he has a vision to create a $1 Billion foundation that will provide 100% funding for small non-profits that help veterans?
Could it be because the vision of his Victory for Veterans Foundation is “ZERO SUICIDES, HOMELESS, JOBLESS, UNCARED FOR, FEELING ALONE & ABANDONED” among the veteran population?
So how did he get the nickname CrazyBillionDollarGuy? Well, when Steve explained his vision at the first BIKE22 fundraising ride in Las Vegas, one of the riders gave him the nickname, put it out on Facebook, and it stuck.
Hey, many of the people who have changed the world for the better were called “crazy” before they made their impact. This foundation is still in its infancy, having just started operating in early 2017. Now let’s explore why they are unique, what their plans are, and what they are doing now to move toward their vision.
How is Victory for Veterans Foundation Unique?
Victory for Veterans Foundation aims to be different than other groups. Here is how the founder and CEO describes their unique approach:
(1) Their goal is to fund 100% of the needs of small non-profit groups that serve veterans, so these groups can focus fully on delivering impactful services rather than spending much of their time on fund-raising.
(2) Their goal is to help non-profits they fund measure their effectiveness and impact, to ensure they are achieving results. That way they can fine-tune their services if they find they are not being effective.
(3) Their goal is to be actively involved by providing coaching on a monthly basis to groups they fund.
(4) Their goal to create an “ecosystem of partners” among groups serving veterans, so by working together the partners can serve all of the veterans’ needs, not just one or two needs in isolation.
(5) Their goal is to teach groups they work with how to become self-sustaining, so that long-term they won’t need outside funding.
Right now, their two key areas of focus are suicide prevention and job training and placement. Steve Durgin and the foundation Board Chairman Col. Mikel Burroughs (retired) believe that everything they do – job placement, housing help, mental health counseling, health care support, providing hope and more – contributes to preventing veteran suicides.
The problem is complex and multi-faceted, so their response is multi-faceted.
“Many days I end my calls and sit at my desk and weep.”
Terry Jenkins, founder of US Veteran Jobs
Terry Jenkins, a veteran who owned a technology company and was getting into the job placement business, had his life changed the day he met Steve Durgin and Mikel Burroughs of Veterans for Victory. Impressed by their work to fight veteran suicide, he asked them: “What can I do to help you? My program is not focused on suicide.”
Here’s how Terry describes what happened next.
“Steve replied, ‘Terry you do not realize the impact of your idea, you are creating a cure for Veteran suicide. You are providing a way to restore Hope and Purpose which ultimately cures suicide.’ That statement changed my life!”
Terry went on: “A few weeks later I abandoned my investment, restructured my company and began the process of building ETAC into what it is today. We will never lose sight that this is our responsibility and purpose in this world… restoring Hope and Purpose to as many Veterans as possible, regardless if they are just separating from the military or they are seasoned and moving into executive roles. They fought for us, and we will now fight for them.”
When Terry “sits at his desk and weeps,” it’s because he encounters many veterans who had successful careers in the military for 20+ years and who now work for minimum wage as janitors or security guards.
But through his hard work and the help of Victory for Veterans Foundation, he now has over 300 veterans in an IT (Information Technology) training and mentorship program. For example, a veteran named Patrick who came to the program was living paycheck to paycheck, working a low-paid factory job. He was broke and couldn’t afford the $500 entry fee to get started (Victory for Veterans helped out with the entry fee). Then after five months of training and mentoring from US Veteran Jobs, and lots of hard work and commitment on his part, Patrick was able to land a technology job paying $60,000. This fresh start in a new city gave him a new lease on life.
Memorial Day Flowers
Victory for Veterans is honoring veterans as well as helping them. They just completed their second year of Memorial Day Flowers. This Memorial Day they gathered volunteers to place over 20,000 flowers on veterans’ gravesites at seven national cemeteries in four states. The photo above the article shows Col. Burroughs with volunteers ready to place thousands of flowers.
Warriors for Life
“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Victor Frankl
Victory for Veterans Foundation sponsors a weekly support group called Warriors for Life. It gives veterans a chance to talk with peers online from wherever they live in the country, a chance to be heard, and a chance to know that someone cares about what they are going through.
Warriors for Life also includes a private and confidential Facebook group, again to facilitate communication. If you would like to reach the Warriors for Life support group, use the contact form on this page.
“Today I meet with a Veteran in Castle Rock, CO & our bond as veterans & service members is a camaraderie greater than just “me”; it’s respect for each other no matter what your political party, religion, or beliefs are. Let’s Stand together!”
COL (Ret) Mikel Burroughs
This Saturday, June 30, people will be out together on their motorcycles in 10 cities around the country for a national Ride 22 – to raise awareness and money for the goal of ending veteran suicides.
Victory for Veterans is collaborating with local American Legion posts, VFW posts and others to make this event happen. You can register now for the ride and later see photos of the events on their Facebook page.
Victory for Veterans Foundation has big goals. Their collaborative model will make it possible for them to impact the lives of many more veterans in need than if they tried to do everything themselves. If you or someone you know would like to donate $1 Billion to the foundation (or less) to build veterans’ jobs, health, housing and hope – and reduce veteran suicides – reach out to the Victory for Veterans Foundation now.