Local veteran helps others Choose 2 Live
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – Stephen T. Garvin is a 30-year active-duty retired Army command sergeant major. In 2018, he and his wife, Nicole, also a service member, moved to Marshfield with their children.
Garvin now serves as a veteran advocate/mentor and partner for “Helping Heroes” and “Team Unbroken.” As an advocate, he works for the nation’s veterans, service members, first responders, and their families on an array of issues – work which he said paid back in a big way.
“I feel now I have a purpose after the military; I know this can be something, something I love to do, something that could save someone else’s life as it did mine, and something I have did most of my 30 years of active service, advocating, taking care of those who take care of us, and most importantly to coach, teach, and mentor,” he explained.
“If it wasn’t for the ‘Are you ok?’ – a small but powerful question – from a nurse at the VA (and) a phone call from C.J. Goldman, who also is a veteran, a man with a vision, asking if I would help him organize a team as a coach and mentor that would facilitate a healthy way for warriors to cope and heal with their mental health issues. Healing through something they love – sports – to have something to look forward to rather than feeling hopeless or ultimately committing suicide.”
And, that is how Team Unbroken was formed.
“C.J. wanted Team Unbroken to be made up of veterans, first responders, and active-duty service members coping with or diagnosed with mental health issues, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or other conditions. A few are permanently disabled because of their military service,” Garvin explained.
“A few months later, Ryan Sattelberg, a great friend, a retired sergeant major, and the director of programs called me and said he had ‘seen that I was on a softball team,’ and I told him a little about it,” he recalled.
Sattelberg said that he was starting up a new campaign for an organization he works with and saw similar goals and vision.
“The vision of stopping the stigma of mental health and healing through sports,” he explained, “that organization is ‘Helping Heroes’ and together we would help further the #ICHOOSE2LIVE campaign.
“I was the middleman between two great people; Ryan didn’t know CJ and CJ didn’t know Ryan. When those two connected with guidance and mentoring from me, a partnership was established.
“This unique partnership is a critical component to the journey these men are taking in their post-military lives and serves as a reminder to the thousands of veterans who struggle with PTSD as well as other conditions that their brothers and sisters in arms support them, you are not alone.”
Today, the men work together to help educate veterans and first responders and connect them with resources, providing aid, comfort, and material support to them and their families.
“Team Unbroken wants to change the narrative of mental health; each member has committed to being ‘Better than Yesterday,’ to find strength in the struggle, to seek growth through pain, and most importantly live,” Garvin added.
“Suicide due to mental health issues is the second leading cause of death among service members, and the leading cause of death for veterans. It’s all about awareness, encouraging open talks about mental health which is often a misunderstood condition by those who have no firsthand experience.”
Helping Heroes was established to raise funds and awareness for the relief of distressed or underprivileged active military service members, veterans of the armed forces, first responders, and their families. They also support the POW-MIA awareness campaign.
The United Veterans Coalition of Colorado serves as an umbrella organization for Helping Heroes and over 800 different veteran service organizations in the state.
Helping Heroes also meets with lawmakers on veterans and first responder issues.
“Together we are stronger and can never be broken. Creating our own support system of loved ones and friends and the credibility of who information comes from and who share it makes a big difference,” Garvin stated.
For more information, visit www.helpingheroes.org or call 919-747-3238.