Saving lives by bridging the divides.
Bringing back a sense of "selves" through community unity.
With a relentless focus on the future, we strive to have our veterans, and other powerful communities work together to promote both moral righteousness and social impact. We build sustainable bridges of trust, unity, and respect between our service members, and other influential communities through advocacy, community relations, and media outreach. Our newsworthy events and projects open the doors for shared opportunities and a shared sense of community.
Social support is such a crucial buffer to psychological distress (Kessler and McLeod 1985). Meanwhile, today's Iraq and Afghanistan combat soldiers must do this within a larger society in which he or she feels increasingly marginalized and misunderstood.
In war, the sense of self has been converted to the sense of (bonded) selves—it is not individualized. The military (and combat) experience systematically breaks down a soldier's individualism and autonomy. The cohesion, discipline, and order can instill the feeling of being owned by the institution. This experience is magnified by the dissociation and emotional withdrawal that warfare demands. In post-deployment, former soldiers must reacquaint with their civilian loved ones (and former self). The effort to be congruent with one’s identity and sense of self is often agonizing, because when individuals fail to achieve desired consistency (between situation and belief of self) they experience cognitive and/or emotional dissonance that gets manifested as distress (Charmaz 1983; Elson 2003; Lively and Smith 2011).
“Demographics aren’t destiny. Our culture isn’t the work of one race or religion. To suggest otherwise is to contradict our ideals and to doubt their power.”
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN
While massive numbers of service members return home with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injuries, only a small number of them are seeking mental health care due to the stigma surrounding such care. Separation from service and the need to adapt to new societal norms has led returning service members to experience great difficulties in their newly founded lives. Veterans find meaning in community, and their sense of identity is often rediscovered in their sharing of memories and stories with their fellow service members. They find comfort in their sense of "self" and in knowing that they too have a place in their new society.
The importance of military friendships through the terror, sadness, boredom, and tedium of deployment is becoming more evident in today’s society. An overall connection with our communities at large have important implications for reintegration and transition of service members into civilian society. While military friendships may be important during post-deployment reintegration, a sense of community unity among veterans and the civilian community is yet another fundamental aspect of mental and physical health.
“Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity.”
We at AUSV believe that collaborative communities can be a vehicle to bring real opportunities for society. By encouraging creativity in this cooperative environment, we hope to create a new narrative for our veterans and for all Americans. We believe that community unity is a tribute to the strength and preference of people for inclusion and partnership over division and alienation.