I started the Invisible Wounds Project because I experienced the struggles of PTSD and trauma as a first responder firsthand. I spent 17 years in public safety working as a police officer, corrections officer and 911 dispatcher. In 2016 I was struggling with PTSD and had hit rock bottom. I was having suicidal ideations, and I hated who I had become. I was a bad father, husband, and was making bad decisions at work that were impacting myself and those I worked with. I knew I needed to make a change in order to save my life. I had looked around for help, but I couldn’t find anything for someone whom I trusted or would understand what I was going through.
Rewind a bit to 2009, I had started an event that’s now called Cruise For Heroes, as a way to pay tribute to my dad who was a veteran, and give back to veterans. I decided to take a leap of faith and leave my public safety career to pursue a career in sales and marketing. It took a few years, but I knew I needed to do something more to help others who were like me. I knew too many first responders who were struggling without resources.
Over time, I recruited some like-minded folks who also wanted to help. In 2018, the Invisible Wounds Project was founded. Over time, the mission has changed to meet the needs of those we serve, but the vision has always remained the same, to help improve the lives and mental health of veterans, first responders, and their families. We focus on helping the small percentage of those who answer the call to serve and do things that most will never see or do. It was also important to me that the families not be left behind. I know all too well that the trauma and struggles I dealt with found their way home, and impacted my family.
Today, we are helping people connect with therapists that are specialized in working with our veterans, and first responders. We provide wellness and social connection activities that help those we serve get out and reconnect with their peers. We’ve built a community of helpers that support others and they’ve found new purpose in paying it forward. Each year we help hundreds of individuals, families and groups.
~ Russ Hanes (Founder)