The Overcome Academy is a new, life-changing program designed to help combat wounded warriors find their place as leaders within the civilian world with the goal of developing the next greatest generation. Operated through the Combat Wounded Coalition (CWC), the Overcome Academy is backed by licensed, retired Navy psychologists, certified disability specialists, leadership experts and Old Dominion University.
The unfortunate realities of post-military veteran life:
- 453,000 unemployed 9/11 veterans in 2016
- Average of 22 veteran suicides every day
- 20% of combat veterans are diagnosed with PTSD
- As many as 39% of combat veterans are abusing alcohol or narcotics
- An estimated 39,000 veterans are homeless with 1.2 million a risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support and living in overcrowded or dismal living conditions
Studies show that our combat veterans struggle in many ways. Some of the common issues they face are:
- Finding that the civilian world lacks structure compared to the military
- Difficulty transitioning from life and death situations in the military to the basic routine of civilian life
- A lack of clear purpose in the civilian world
- Struggling to translate their military skills
- They don’t know what they’re good at or what their new passion is
The gap in teaching our current veterans how to build structure and leadership within themselves is having negative impacts across the country. Pew Research found that 44% of post 9/11 veterans say that transitioning into the civilian world is very difficult. This struggle to forge their own path has resulted in only 4.5% of 9/11 veterans owning or operating a business, compared to 49.7% of WWII veterans and 40% of Korean War veterans.
Designed as a two-week, curriculum-based course, students are taught skills in leadership, purpose, resiliency, communication, nutrition and physical fitness. The goal is to teach combat-wounded veterans how to lead themselves so that they may go out and lead others. Students learn how to speak, dress, present themselves and interact with civilian companies for success. Above all else, the Overcome Academy helps each warrior understand that they are a leader, and that they can overcome and set the example as a leader within their family, workplace and community.
A Program Unlike Any Other
There are many wounded warrior employment and speaking programs available but none offer training from the unique, powerful, multi-tiered perspective of Overcome Academy. However, only the Overcome Academy seeks to assist our combat-wounded veterans in understanding who they are, what their purpose and mission are, and most importantly, in learning how to lead themselves in accomplishing it.
The purpose of the Overcome Academy is to teach key returning warriors how to be leaders, build structure within their own lives, lead themselves and then how to apply that knowledge to lead others. This is accomplished by giving students a proven template to utilize for success, getting them involved in their community and connecting them with a mentor to walk beside them on their journey to find success in the civilian world.
Alongside data scientists and psychologists, research was conducted by Old Dominion University before, during and after the two-week course to evaluate its effectiveness. An initial readiness assessment was carried out before the students were accepted to the program to evaluate their current mental state and establish a baseline for their understanding of who they are. Additional assessments were conducted on day one of the course and again at the end of the course.
The results of these studies speak for themselves:
- Consistent improvement in how they viewed themselves as leaders, the confidence they had about leading others and themselves, and their motivation to lead
- Significant improvements in their confidence levels for eating healthy, becoming physically fit, achieving balance in life, and creating/maintaining daily structure and regimen
- Continuous decrease of unproductive and negative perceptions and attitudes toward civilians and civilian life
- Increased comfort in talking about their military experiences and seeking help from others, confidence in turning problems into opportunities and appreciation for appearance