Are you living on the outside while dying on the inside? Are you drowning your pain in prescription drugs and alcohol? Are you alone in your sorrow because someone near and dear to your heart has committed suicide, and no one knows how to reach out? From your very own family, best friends, colleagues… no one knows how to help. It’s time to open the mental health dialogue in our homes, churches, businesses, and schools as Warrior 180 Foundation wants to come along side of our community as a present help in time of need. For those struggling with PTSD, depression, and thoughts of suicide—there is hope! There is help, and Warrior 180 Foundation is just a call away. Established in 2015, by Founder/Executive Director Jeff Hastings, Warrior 180 Foundation grew out of a desire to bring hope and help to military, veterans and first responders. “What that hope, and help might look like is contingent upon the individual needs,” begins Hastings. “Some folks are severely depressed. Some folks are in great crisis. Some folks are experiencing PTSD. Many family members of veterans and first responders have secondary or caregiver PTSD. Often we come across circumstances where a loved one has already committed suicide, and the family is traumatized with no support system in place. People are so afraid of what to do and say that many stay at a distance— that’s exactly what these folks don’t need.” Ministering as a pastor for twenty-two years, a US Army Chaplain for eight years, a veteran of Iraq, and as a parent of a soldier who got blown up in Afghanistan—Hastings and his family have traveled a similar path to those they seek to serve. As the mission hits so close to home, Hastings tells, “I was in Iraq and Kuwait at the same time our son Logan was in Afghanistan. On the day I left for Iraq, Logan was blown up in Afghanistan. My wife was home, literally alone. People didn’t know what to say to her, so they left her alone. We had a great support system in place, but our friends didn’t know what to do. When I came home and found out about this, it fueled me to start Warrior 180 Foundation as so many people have been in a similar position. I just said, never again as long as I can help others.” Hastings remembers another life moment in Iraq when he experienced a severe breakdown moment. “I called my wife in tears and told her I didn’t think I could do it anymore. She told me that the funny thing was that I could never have done any of it anyway, but that with God all things are possible! It was an enlightening moment! My life has never been about me. It’s all about Him. When God says He can do great things…He can. Warrior 180 Foundation is not about Jeff Hastings. Warrior 180 Foundation is about what God wants to do to awaken people’s hearts to help others. I believe people want to help our military, veterans and first responders—they just don’t know how.” While serving as a hospital chaplain in the ER and intensive care unit, Hastings found himself needing help again. He remembers going to the grocery story one evening to get some supplies. He tells, “One lady got so upset over the toilet paper. And it hit me that she was upset about toilet paper while my buddies were getting killed and committing suicide—and that’s the problem? I lost it right then and there… and I had to get help. I want people to know that we serve them with the love of the Savior who came to redeem all of the broken.”As time passed, it seemed that every time Hastings went out, he would meet a veteran having trouble and going along without support. He’d meet a first responder’s family who was struggling and hurting. He would meet a family whose son had just committed suicide, and the family was all alone. Out of the ever-present need, Warrior 180 Foundation was fueled. As the needs drove the mission, the Hastings family started brainstorming over a name. When Jeff & Criss Hastings of Warrior 180 Foundation. son Logan suggested, “What about Warrior U Turn?” The family agreed that was the concept was right, but the name was wrong. Basically everybody in the same breath, said, “What about Warrior 180 Foundation?” In that moment Warrior 180 Foundation was born. The early years of the ministry were shared on the road as Jeff and his wife Criss traveled across America sharing their message of hope from the Warrior 180 Foundation RV wrapped in American flag visuals, military branches’ logos, and words of hope. Hastings remembers one evening when they stopped the RV to get gas. “There was a lady standing by her car, just staring up at the RV. I explained to her that we help military, veterans, first responders and their families who struggle with PTSD, depression, alcohol, drug abuse, and suicide. She started crying and said, ‘My son just committed suicide and nobody knows.’” The nobody knows aspect is… “PEOPLE KNOW!” exclaims Hastings. “Just because the lady didn’t tell them doesn’t mean they didn’t know. As the story goes on, they knew, but everybody was too afraid to reach out. Not one of her closest friends called her. Her son died the week before, and not one person contacted her. This has to stop.” Hastings continues, “When you don’t know what to do—just be there. Make a batch of cookies. Go visit. Tell them that you don’t know what to do or say. Cry with them. Love them. Pray with them. We have to get over this cultural fear and start actively loving, caring and reaching out to people who are hurting.” The best part of the ministry for Hastings remains sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, meeting and honoring first responders and veterans, and seeing people become equipped to make a difference. The most difficult part of the ministry is not being able to help people who need it the most. The “I’m OK, we’re OK,” and then they take their life. The Hastings family understands the mission as they have a son in the struggle. Serving in the U.S. military, their son Logan called one day with a challenge after yet another soldier in his company at Fort Campbell ended his life to suicide. As his count of friends’ suicides continued to rise into the twenties, Logan reached out in 2016 saying, “We’ve got to stop this and wake the country up to what’s happening to our veterans. You and I are going to kayak the entire length of the Mississippi River.” Seeing as neither Hastings nor his son had ever kayaked before, they started watching a lot of YouTube videos and planning their trip. Upon getting all of their supplies donated, Hastings and his son departed on May 1, 2017, and 85 days later, they hit the ocean. They did it! They kayaked the entire 2,347 miles of the Mississippi River all the way to the ocean! In conquering their goal to raise awareness for suicide intervention, the guys met so many people who loved God and country—they are the same who support our law enforcement and our military and veterans. The NY Times even came and spent a day with the guys. Hastings reminisces, “I almost lost my son, and I got to spend 85 days with him. We slept in a one-man tent every night. We stunk. We only took about a dozen showers during that 85 days, but it was one of the greatest times in my life! I have only kayaked once in my life…for 2,347 miles, and I haven’t kayaked since.” Just as Warrior 180 Foundation was gaining momentum, COVID came to town. Pre-COVID, Hastings remembers one town in Ohio, where suicide was rampant; he spoke at twelve schools in three days. Things were going well until COVID hit and canceled everything on the schedule. Working in unison with his board of directors scattered over New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Kentucky, Hastings was advised to, “minister to people where God has you.” Eventually the time came for Warrior 180 Foundation to find a home base. Out of all of the towns in America, the answer to so many prayers led the Hastings to destination Aberdeen in January Logan Hastings on the Mississippi River Trip. 2021, which just happens to neighbor the largest military base in the world and rests within walking distance of local police and fire departments. Hastings ponders, “We serve a God who said, ‘All things are possible…’” With the home base now established in Moore County, Hastings is working to establish a team of folks in the community who can help serve those who serve us. “We want to establish a coalition here as we work together to keep people safe, to stop suicide, to help families, to be with families when there is a deployment, etc.” tells Hastings. “We want to come along side the people in Moore County and be a part of this community. Already invested, Warrior 180 Foundation has participated in the Veteran’s Day Parade, set up a booth at Autumnfest, gathered over 100 Christmas packages and distributed the care to every fireman and policeman in Moore County. The remaining packages were given to veterans and active duty servicemen who didn’t have families in the area. Welcomed with open arms at Aberdeen First Baptist who has offered space to host meetings, Warrior 180 Foundation offers a time of worship, training, and assistance to military veterans and first responders. Specializing in counseling, training, and assistance, Warrior 180 Foundation is 100% invested. Counseling means reaching out to people who need hope, a listening ear, and resources to help them avoid a crisis. Assistance comes in many forms based on individual needs. Maybe someone needs a lawn mowed or a ramp built for a disabled veteran. The Training includes equipping others to know what to do in times of crisis. One of the highest levels of training includes suicide intervention. In offering Suicide Intervention classes, Warrior 180 Foundation wants to intervene and save lives! Hastings explains, “We are all aware of heart prevention: you’re eating right; you’re exercising; you’re dealing with stress; you’re seeing your doctor. That’s heart prevention. Well, suicide prevention is the same thing. You’re taking care of yourself emotionally. You’re dealing with relationships effectively. You’re exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, and developing friendships. This is all suicide prevention.” When difficulty arises, people must deal with the problems right away. Many people think their trouble is so big that there is no way out of it—that they might as well end it all, but Hastings assures, “We have to stop that way of thinking. You must defeat a lie with the truth every time, and the truth is, ‘I’ve got a God so big, it doesn’t matter what kind of troubles I’m facing, He loves me, and He can help me through it.’” Hastings continues, “We met a lady in South Dakota whose brother was the ‘perfect’ person. He was the perfect physician, hair always immaculate, dressed to the 9’s as he cared about people—he committed suicide. The sister said there were no signs. The problem was that the signs were there, the family just didn’t know what they were. The more she dove in, she realized that he had quit taking care of himself about a month before he died. He quit sleeping. He wouldn’t shower. He quit shaving. He wore the same clothes every day for a week. He started giving away prized possessions. He started talking about death. He would say, ‘I’m a hindrance to my family.’ People would tell him he didn’t really mean that. He tried, but nobody heard him. Nobody knew what to do. We want to establish a community of folks who know what to do.” From the top down, from the military outreaches and into school gatherings, Warrior 180 Foundation wants to open the dialogue so that people know both how to get help and how to give help. Seeking to teach the community that it is safe for people to Jeff Hastings, Founder of Warrior 180 Foundation, with RV & Friends. be able to talk about suicide is a first step in healing. In addition to suicide intervention classes, Warrior 180 Foundation also specializes in PTSD training in offering two different classes: One class is for people who have PTSD. The amount of first responders and military personnel who have PTSD is sky-rocketing. For instance, someone may be deployed, get blown up, and come home with PTSD. Or a first responder, who arrives at a car accident full of kids, and he has little kids. Once they get back to the station and their friends ask, “Are you OK?” Of course, they respond, “Yeah, I’m fine.” But they’re not fine. The other class offers resources for caregivers who care for those with PTSD. “We’re blessed to work with the greatest heroes our nation has,” tells Hastings. “These people get up and put on their uniform every day to serve our country. Some do it right here in Southern Pines, Aberdeen, Pinehurst, and some do it in Africa, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Sometimes it’s hard to put that uniform on. I was in Iraq serving as the only Chaplain ministering to 1500 soldiers who were getting blown up, but the Lord gave me strength. It was my job to keep them in the fight. In bringing home that same vision, we have to continue to save lives in our community. We need to give back to these people who keep us safe and thank them for what they’ve done. When they’re desperately hurting, we need to come along side them. Moore County is filled with good folks who may not know how to help.” The greatest need continues to be volunteers. Warrior 180 Foundation needs people to help distribute resources. They need groups to host Star Parties wherein discarded flags are re-purposed with the stars gifted to veterans, first responders, and military personnel for their service. Volunteers are also needed to knit blankets out of grocery store bags that could be gifted to all of the homeless veterans in and around the surrounding counties. The greatest vision in looking forward includes building a Center for Hope in Moore County. “We want a facility yesterday!” shares Hastings. “I believe the needs are so great! People are walking around lost and helpless and hopeless. We want to reach out to these veterans, military, and first responders with a drop-in center offering support meetings and followups.” In addition to the counseling support, Warrior 180 Foundation wants to include a space for wood-working, metal working, auto body repair, and gardening. Hastings cheers, “Many veterans have lost their purpose, but we want to encourage them—Come on! We’ll help you find purpose again. Let’s learn a skill, mentor a friend, build a project, and then let’s give those things back to our community. Some veterans are retired and think their life is over—Come to our center and mentor these young guys who are struggling. Come build a table together and then let’s give the table to a family in need and see the smile on their face.” In addition to the Center for Hope, Hastings wants to assemble 1,000 Christmas care packages this year with the help of some corporate sponsors who believe in the mission. “Jesus has called us to be a light in a dark world; we need to start shining that light,” challenges Hastings. To those thinking of suicide, Hastings implores, “Reach out! There is hope! Don’t buy the lies. Don’t buy the lies that you’re hearing—we can get through this. We can. Suicide is 100% preventable. The problem is nobody wants to talk about it. If there are people out there hurting—CALL ME!” To the families who feel all alone after a loved one has committed suicide, Hastings encourages, “Get help. Get help right away. Talk about your troubles. Every one of us has troubles. We are all broken. Together we can help each other.” As Warrior 180 Foundation is supported by the kindness and gracious donations of others, Hastings closes with an unforgettable story. “At one of our outreaches, there was this little boy whose dad had just committed suicide. That little boy went home, got his piggy bank and gave it to us so there wouldn’t be any more people like his dad. There is hope. There is help. We want people in crisis to reach out. Usually we get to know God through our trouble, and my hope is that people come to know Him in a real, intimate way. When God says He can do great things…He can.” ☐ To get involved, make a difference, change a life, or support the Warrior 180 Foundation, please connect as follows: Call: 866.CALL180 // 866.225.5180 Mail: PO Box 855, Aberdeen, NC 28315 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.warrior180.org Fb: warrior180foundation.