The American Legion Post 543 Veteran to Veteran (V2V) Program was designed to connect Brunswick County military veterans experiencing transition issues with other veterans who have experienced many of the same issues and had them resolved.
The new V2V Program team is comprised of knowledgeable and seasoned volunteer veterans who, based on their military service and life experiences, can effectively empathize with their fellow veterans and help them navigate through the many complex procedures when seeking assistance. Most importantly, they RELATE: Respect, Engage, Listen, Assist, Talk and Encourage. They are a cadre of veteran facilitators who will respond when a veteran or family member seeks or is referred to the V2V Program for assistance. Team members are not trained medical personnel or licensed counselors; however, they can refer veterans experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to the appropriate professional organization, including VA. They also can help with issues related to benefits they may be entitled to, such as education, unemployment, homelessness, hunger and strained relationships, to name a few.
“On average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and many others suffer from depression, anxiety and economic concerns as they try desperately to successfully transition from military life,” said Lou Panigutti, who founded and heads up the post’s V2V Program. “That alone was our main motivation to create this program,” he added.
More information is available to veterans and their families at the V2V hotline, 910-604-4443, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post 543 of St. James was established in 2011 at the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and received its permanent charter in July 2012. The post is named for Richard H. "Richie" Stewart Jr., whose parents lived in St. James at the time. Richie perished on Sept. 11, 2001, in the attack on the north tower of the World Trade Center (WTC). In 2011 the National 9/11 Flag, salvaged from the WTC, made its only North Carolina stop in Southport for the July 4 festival while on a commemorative journey across America.