I am truly humbled and overjoyed that you have stumbled onto our little charity. There is a back story here. I am a disabled United States Marine Veteran. In 2006, I deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. While in country my battalion lost 11 incredible men. One of those men being Lcpl. Eric Valdenpenas and namesake of this charitable organization. Eric was one of the best friends that anyone could’ve ever asked for. He was one of those people that if you had a problem, no matter how large it was he was going to be right by your side to help you weather the storm. He passed on September 4, 2006. The world could really use more people like Eric and that is why we humbly attempt to carry on his legacy of understanding and looking after his brothers when they are in need. This is expected to happen in a time of war. What you do not expect is what happens next. Returning home is arguably more difficult than remaining in country. While in a combat area it is really the simplest of humanity. Kill or be killed and always watch for the threat. Upon coming home this does not go away in your brain. The hyper vigilance remains. The only way to get rid of it is to numb yourself and alter your brain. Unfortunately many veterans choose to do this in some not so healthy ways. I have watched incredible, courageous, and strong men waste away into the soul sucking abyss that is returning home. If it had not been for my support system I could’ve very likely had been one of them.
The fortunate thing in the tale is that where there is struggle there can also by triumph. The learning to come to grips with my own demons and guilt from survival has brought me to this crossroad in my life where I can be in a position to help my brothers and my sisters. I hope to use my own struggle through hard times to help those who have not yet learned how to face their demons in a healthy and productive way. There are so many things that you can do to help yourself. The main thing is to bring your family into the fold. The problem with this is that so many veterans families cannot ever understand that struggle and nor would we ever wish them to. They do not have to understand what we have been through and what we have done to understand how to help us. Studies show that the most important thing for a veteran with PTSD is a strong and understanding support system.
Also proven is the healing properties that nature possesses. This is especially true in the PTSD community. For us the world is full of triggers. Triggers are the things that will bring us back to a time where we have been through a traumatic event. This could be so many different things. From a simple everyday smell, to sound or a picture. These things can come out in the way of anger, depression, or so many other things that can be commonly misunderstood by the family in so many different ways. The funny thing about that is that for most of us our families are the reason we even joined the military in the first place. To protect them.
For this reason we at Earthbound turn to you. Our supporters and Veterans. We want to make sure that no veteran is left behind. That is a code in the military that we stand firmly by and it cannot stop once we get out. Earthbound is an organization that hope to provide veterans with the support and comradery that they need to get through this transition. We will use the calming and soothing effects that being in the outdoors creates to remove the veteran from their triggers while we guide the families towards available resources for them that so many families are not aware of. All the while including the family in our activities to help them also realize that they are not alone. Growing a community of nurturing and support for the veteran and their families. This has been my dream since being diagnosed with PTSD and I will stop at nothing to make sure that my family is taken care of. You are now all members of the Earthbound family.
Thank you for your time and support,
President and Founder of Eric’s Earthbound Vets