Spotlight Nonprofit: Veterans find strength and support to combat physical and mental wounds

LatinaLista — The five stars in the logo of the newly launched You Are Strong! non-profit symbolize the five main branches of the military: The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

You Are Strong! founder Xiomara A. Sosa, a veteran herself of the Army and Air Force, knew that for some of these soldiers, coming home could be a lot scarier than being in Iraq or Afghanistan. For these soldiers, being home was the start of a whole new war — mentally and physically.

Whether suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or learning how to live civilian life with one less limb, these soldiers have an added burden that makes reintegrating into civilian life difficult, at the least.

It doesn’t help when soldiers who know they need the services of a mental health professional are made to feel ashamed, embarrassed or less of a soldier. That’s why Xiomara Sosa created You Are Strong!

Veterans since 9/11 have steadily come back from either Afghanistan or Iraq with visible and invisible wounds. There is still so much unnecessary and unfounded negative stigma going on about getting the mental health help that you need, especially for veterans.

I am just so determined to change that and get people to see that it takes courage to get the help you need and there is no reason to feel shame or anything negative about it.

Mental health is equally as important as physical health; there is no shame in seeing doctors or professionals for either. You Are Strong! is one more avenue for me to do that – to help people, especially veterans, see that.

The site’s overall mission is to combat the negative stigma associated with mental health needs while being a reliable source of information for veterans and their families. The site provides news and blog posts on over twenty issues ranging from clinical depression to homelessness to military sexual trauma.

There are plans for podcasts where soldiers will share their personal stories and experiences and there are regular postings of news, upcoming documentaries and events all recognizing what is happening to soldiers after they return home.

Veterans are one of the most important members of our society and emerging in large numbers. Yet they are the least visible. I plan to change that – You Are Strong! will be my avenue to do it!

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