Project New Hope: Helping Veterans Reconnect with Their Families
When veterans return home from months or years in combat, many struggle to reconnect with their families. Lions are working to change that by partnering with Minnesota’s Veteran’s Affairs Department to provide an innovative program.
Last summer, our video crew traveled to McGregor, Minnesota to find out about the Project New Hope program – a free retreat where veterans and their families come to bond and reflect. Counselors lead the sessions, but the families do the real work. “The research shows that the most effective therapy is peer-to-peer counseling,” says Dustin Oosten, a Project New Hope Counselor. “People bounce ideas off each other because it’s not about becoming bullet-proof. It’s just … doing the best we can so we can move forward.”
At two years old, Maya isn’t old enough to understand the impact her dad’s year in Iraq had on her family. Her parents are working on redefining their relationship. “You can let down some of the barriers and say, hey we got some issues. And wow – everyone has similar issues,” said Marlon Reynolds, an Iraq war veteran. Marlon’s wife, Michelle Montalvo added, “I felt like crying a billion times since I’ve been here so far. I feel like I’ve had a lump in my throat the whole time. “It’s just a relief. It feels really good.”