[In an era when many of our star athletes are greedy ego maniacs, it is refreshing to see someone doing it the right way. Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds All-Star first baseman, is determined to make a difference with his celebrity. I respect the way he plays the game, playing hard every day even though he is a superstar. Now I respect him even more.]
Joey Votto Foundation will help those with PTSD
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who just announced his new foundation on Thursday, details more about what he is trying to accomplish in an exclusive column for the Enquirer.
I still remember the images of the burning buildings on 9/11. As my father and I sat in front of our television, he looked at me and said, “If we go to war, you may have to go.” At 18 years old and one day, it was at that moment I realized the personal impact of the sacrifices made by those who serve.
I’ve always had a profound respect for Canadian and American military members and their families – and I am motivated now to help them through a foundation I announced Thursday.
For more than a dozen years, many in the military have been deployed for long periods of time in combat zones, enduring hostile conditions most of us cannot fathom. Some of these brave men and women come home with physical injuries, but many more return to our communities with unseen injuries that can be just as debilitating.
Most Americans know that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects veterans as well as men and women on active duty, but most people are not aware of the depth of the problem.
Approximately 25 percent of returning American soldiers will experience PTSD. Roughly half of veterans with PTSD will seek help, but many will drop out of treatment before completion. Sometimes they drop out because they don’t want to talk about the trauma; sometimes they drop out fearing a stigma associated with receiving psychological care.
Although neither I nor anyone in my family has served, I do know what it feels like to suffer from panic attacks, depression and emotional struggles after a life-changing event.
In 2008, during my second year in the majors, my father passed away suddenly. My grief led to overwhelming panic attacks and bouts of depression that landed me on the disabled list due to stress the following season.
I received much needed and very effective treatment.
Without it, I am not sure where I would be today.
I’ve combined my personal perspective on the healing power of clinical professionals with my appreciation for the deserving military heroes who need similar help. As a result, my off-the-field focus these days is on fighting for the cause of veterans and service members who need help healing their nonphysical wounds.
I launched the Joey Votto Foundation to bring hope to those in Cincinnati and my native Toronto who sacrificed for us and now need our assistance. The foundation’s initial emphasis will be two-fold:
1) Due to my personal experience, the foundation will focus on helping returning veterans and their family members. The disorder is associated with marital instability, domestic violence, interpersonal conflict and family dysfunction, but unfortunately there is a severe lack of resources to support an affected individual’s family. We’ll start this part of the effort by collaborating with the University of Cincinnati and UC Health to create a stress disorder program for military families under the leadership of Dr. Kate Chard, a world-renowned expert in the treatment of PTSD for victims and their families.
2) Finally, there is a need for veterans and their families affected by PTSD to socialize and network with one another, as this is considered to be one of the key areas that is often lacking for individuals with traumatic stress. We’ll create a program of “monthly missions” that will provide opportunities for PTSD sufferers to experience the therapeutic benefits of engaging with the community by working on volunteer projects around the Cincinnati area.
There are more details about the foundation’s mission and objectives than I can describe here, but you can learn more at VottoFoundation.org. My hope is that everyone who reads this column or visits the site will reflect on the fact that there are heroes walking among us who need our help.
They did their part for us; it’s now time for us to go to bat for them.