Former Army Chief of Staff Headlines Event Launching Mental Health Initiative to Help Meet Veteran PTSD/Suicide Crisis

- Teams of Veterans on Experiential Learning Challenges will form Cohorts to work together over the long term, including making better use of Veterans Administration mental health resources - Research will track and share progress and key findings with other Veteran Support Organizations

- The strong bonds that Veteran Cohorts develop through transformative wilderness expeditions and other team building challenges will continue through Continuation of Care programs supporting their mental and emotional health

Nov 21, 2014, 19:30 ET from Project Rebirth

NEW YORK, Nov. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Project Rebirth, Inc., ( the resilience resource for those who serve Community and Country, announced that former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. (ret.) will be the keynote speaker at the Tuesday, November 25 launch of a major project to help the growing numbers of Veterans grappling with mental health disorders.

Project Cohort, a flagship initiative of Project Rebirth, will first take Veterans on a multi-day experiential learning challenge, starting with transformative wilderness expeditions. For the next year the same cohort of Veterans will attend mental health sessions together. Project Rebirth films chronicling the resilience of 9/11 First Responders and survivors will be used to encourage discussions on overcoming mental health challenges over time. Academic research led by Georgetown University will track the progress of the individuals and cohorts from the Project's start and share key findings – as they are verified along the way -- that will help other Veteran Service Organizations with the same mission.

Project Cohort is based on common sense and experience demonstrating that Veterans' mental health is stronger over time with the support of a team of like-minded Veterans.  Research clearly supports this: consistent social support not only can prevent mental health symptoms from worsening, it increases the numbers who complete treatment and in many cases is essential for fundamental improvement.

"We have a mental health crisis in the Veteran community, and to help meet this unprecedented challenge Project Cohort combines the talents and proven skills of a team committed to scale its effort and to share what we learn – as we learn it -- to help others on the same mission," says Veteran of both wars in Iraq, Project Rebirth Executive Director Lt. Col. Aaron Leonard (US Army, ret.). "Our films are a part of the programs themselves, and they share our message with potential supporters and collaborators. The reason I first became involved with Project Rebirth was because of the resonance of its films with active duty Soldiers and Veterans alike."

Partnering with Project Rebirth in its Project Cohort initiative are its long time partners and collaborators the Georgetown University Department of Psychology, Outward Bound Veterans and Sierra Club Outdoors.  Representatives of those organizations will also be speaking at the launch ceremony.

"The more we got into the mountains working together as a team, we found it was better than any kind of medication or any kind of individual therapy we were getting at the time," explains Josh Brandon, Sierra Club Outdoors Military Program Manager, a recipient of the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars with Valor Device after three combat tours as an Army infantry officer in Iraq. "We know experiential learning works to improve Veteran's mental health, but we need more research to understand and share the most important reasons it works, and to use the bonds formed by our wilderness challenges to help Veterans better support each other in the months and years ahead, including accessing the resources provided by the VA."

Brandon, whose story is captured in a compelling short film (, is available for interviews along with other Veteran and Academic leaders of the Project Cohort team.

About Project Rebirth

The not-for-profit Project Rebirth combines its eleven films based on the eight-year first person accounts of 9/11 First Responders and survivors and the world's largest time lapse project -- including the Peabody Award-winning documentary Rebirth -- and the talents of its diverse team to create and share unique resilience programs for First Responders, Military & Veterans, Community Leaders and Medical & Mental Health Professionals.

Project Rebirth: a resilience resource for all who serve community and country.

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Monica Davis
Project Rebirth Public Relations

SOURCE Project Rebirth