CINCINNATI – Citing his own bouts with panic attacks and depression, Reds star Joey Votto has launched the Joey Votto Foundation to support the healing of service members, veterans and military families affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Greater Cincinnati and Toronto areas.
“I wanted to do something to give back to the communities that have been so good to me, and there were plenty of options,” Votto, a Toronto native, said in a statement. “I chose to help those who are affected by PTSD because of my past experiences with emotional struggles.
“I’ve had panic attacks and depression, which are symptoms experienced by those with PTSD,” Votto said. “I want to help others who are going through mental health issues, so I chose this path.
"I’m very passionate about it.”
In 2009, Votto grew so "totally overwhelmed" with grief and anxiety about the death of his father the previous summer that he took himself out of games and went to the hospital twice for emergency treatment. He went on the disabled list for more than three weeks with stress-related issues.
He remembers calling 911 in the middle of the night while he was on the DL and the rest of the team was on a road trip.
"It was just a very, very scary and crazy night where I had to call 911 at like 3 or 4 in the morning," Votto said. "It was probably the scariest moment I had ever dealt with in my life."
According to its mission statement, here’s what the Joey Votto Foundation is already doing:
Stress Disorder Program for Military Families
“The foundation is working with the University of Cincinnati to create a stress disorder program to provide PTSD treatment and resources for military families. The goal is to care for approximately 500 new patients and more than 4,000 visits/therapy sessions each year.”
Monthly Missions – Socialize. Connect. Serve
“There is healing in helping others and talking with others who face similar life challenges. This program provides opportunities for veterans and their families to socialize and network with each other.
“Ten veterans and their families participated in the foundation’s first mission on October 2013. More than half returned for the foundation’s November mission and were joined by five new veteran participants. The foundation expects these programs to grow steadily in number. “
Suite Incentive Program
“Votto meets with veterans and/or military families on the field, and invites them to be his guests in a game suite at Great American Ball Park. The foundation hosted more than 50 veterans during the 2013 season.“
The mission statement explained the need for additional resources for PTSD sufferers and their families:
“Veterans who are ineligible or do not want to seek treatment at the VA need another place to go to receive evidence-based treatment for PTSD by experts by trained mental health experts. Approximately 25 percent of returning service members will experience PTSD. Roughly half of those seek help, but many drop out of treatment before completion.
“PTSD also has a profound impact on a family. The disorder is associated with marital instability, domestic violence, interpersonal conflict and poor family functioning, accordimg to the foundation statement. While there are a number of organizations in our community focused on helping veterans overcome these barriers, there is a notable lack of resources and support for the affected individual’s family. Many military families are underinsured or uninsured, thus they are often unable to maintain care even when they seek it to cope with stress disorders
“Finally, there is a need for veterans and their families affected by PTSD to develop positive social relationships. One way to do this is to socialize and network with other Veterans and families, as this is considered to be one of the key areas in life for which PTSD has a negative impact for individuals with traumatic stress.”
The foundation’s total operating budget for 2013 is approximately $400,000, according to a release. Votto’s personal investment covers all overhead and administrative costs to ensure that 100% of every dollar raised goes directly to programs. The Joey Votto Foundation is a nonprofit corporation and tax-exempt under IRS Code section 501(c)(3).
Donations are accepted and more information is available at www.vottofoundation.org .
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