Warrior Pointe, an organization started by former soldier Reed Pacheco in 2013, has grown quickly by connecting veterans with veterans and the resources that help them with specific issues.
Pacheco, a Black Hawk crew chief who injured his back and neck when he fell from the helicopter, left the Army in 1996, and then applied for disability compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs. His initial claim was denied and he didn’t file an appeal because he didn’t know which veterans’ group to go to for help.
However, in 2012, he again asked the VA for help because he was suffering physically and mentally, including having suicidal thoughts. Even after the VA put him through several therapy programs, Pacheco said he still was contemplating how he could kill himself without his wife and kids seeing it.
That’s when he came to a realization: The VA’s group-therapy sessions were the only times he didn’t feel alone. He was among other veterans who weren’t shocked when he told them about going shopping only at night and avoiding going out in public.
“Suicide is not the problem, but a by-product of the problem,” Pacheco said. “We’re taught to suck it up and drive on. We’re taught the mission comes first. We (try to) deal with everything from marriage issues, financial problems, unemployment and claims for disability compensation and medical care from the VA ... I decided to start an organization dedicated to all veterans and active-duty service members, regardless their branch and military occupational specialty or whether they served during peace or war.”
He actually started two organizations — Battle in Distress and Warrior Pointe. Pacheco described Battle in Distress as the “bridge” to the resources available to veterans. It has a software program and a staff that runs a “Battle Response Team.” Warrior Pointe provides Battle in Distress with “boots on the ground” to connect veterans.
Warrior Pointe was founded in Pacheco’s home state of Idaho with a strategic plan that includes four phases: organization, outreach and development, rally and execution, and sustainment. After its first year, the organization is in phases one and two, he said, and has grown from a few hundred members to several thousand.
Pacheco said the organization is set up with a military structure based on the brigade. The United States is divided into five regions, or brigades, with Idaho falling in Brigade 5. Each brigade has a commander, executive officer, first sergeant, G-3 operations and chaplain. Brigade leaders oversee states within their region.
State leadership includes a commander, executive officer, first sergeant, S-3 operations and chaplain who provide direction for each local chapter. Local chapters within each state have the same leadership as the state level, Pacheco said.
Georgia falls in Brigade 2, which is headquartered in North Carolina. Joseph Rowe, Georgia’s state commander, referred to Warrior Pointe members as “the uncommon few that share a common bond.”
Pacheco added that the bond is “duty, honor and country.”
“Joe is a veteran who’s working hard to get his state’s chapters going,” Pacheco said. “Georgia has a lot of veterans and still-serving brothers and sisters. It’s critical that we get this state going. This is a very high-priority state to get running.”
He said Warrior Pointe currently doesn’t have any local chapters “up and running,” but he anticipates as many as five chapters to form in major cities and near military bases in the next 90 days. The organization has applied for nonprofit status, which would include each state and local chapters.
There are no membership dues, and local chapters have no reason to get involved in fundraisers that pay for literature, T-shirts and banners, Pacheco said.
“We will not be engaged in politics,” he said. “There is a lot of fear in regard to veterans. Most of this is based on a very few individuals. What I would encourage people to understand is that those of us who chose to serve this country did it because of the love we have for this country. Our mission is to help solve the issue plaguing our warfighters — homelessness, VA medical care and disability claims, joblessness and veteran phobias.”
For more information, go to www.WarriorPointe.org.