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November 12, 2021 52 min

The Capt. John D. Mason Program aims to save lives by utilizing Veteran peers that go into the community and locate Veterans in need engaging them in VA health services, and other community resources, to live a healthy, productive life.

Captain John D. Mason served in Vietnam with the Second Battalion, Twelfth Marines, Third Marine Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with the Combat “V” for his valor and honorable service. John reflected on his military training and values when faced with personal and professional challenges. John was kind, smart, funny, hardworking, and a man of impeccable values and integrity who loved his wife and two children, and friends deeply. He struggled silently for many years with depression and PTSD stemming from his time in Vietnam. John didn’t want to burden his family or friends with his inner struggles. That, combined with the stigma of mental illness, prevented him from seeking sufficient treatment for his symptoms. In 2013, financial distress and pain from a back injury caused his illness to overpower him and he took his own life. John left five suicide letters, and wrote, “Get me to the VA so they can stop someone else.” Our guests today, Project Coordinator Susan Smykal, Veteran Mark Flower and Veteran Chris Swift discuss the making and operation of the Captain John D. With a focus on Veteran depression and suicide they will focus attention today on their new Gun Safe Storage Program and Gun Safety Program. With a special guest Afghanistan Veteran Matt McDonell. During readjustment Matt had experienced a crisis with prescription withdrawal. Not understanding where the effects would take him he chose to lock his weapons and give the key to a trusted employee. Matt describes the importance of this decision while in crisis. Matt is the founder of ‘Next 18’ golf camp for disabled veterans and first responders. SEE More on Matt’s program at The program is completed with additional resources resources and contact information. We thank Joe and Jennifer Tate and the Medical College of Wisconsin for this and many other programs dedicated to improving the healthcare of veterans, military families and the human spirit. DISCLAIMER: The information and content shared in each episode of the Stigma Free Vet Zone are for informational purposes only. The Stigma Free Vet Zone hosts, Mike Orban, Bob Bach and Erin Schraufnagel are not, nor claim to be, medical doctors, psychologists, or psychiatrists and should not be held responsible for any claims, medical advice, or therapy/treatment recommendations mentioned on this podcast. Any advice mentioned or shared by Mike Orban, Bob Bach, Erin Schraufnagel or their guests is strictly for purposes of bringing awareness to the veteran community and the services available. Please speak with a medical professional before taking any advice or starting any therapy or treatment discussed or shared on this podcast.
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