On Tuesday morning, Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa gathered representatives from Porter-Starke Services, La Porte Veterans Court and Housing Opportunities to present checks for their respective organization’s programs that help advocate on behalf of veterans in the area. Operation Combat Bikesaver and Empowering Patriots were also presented with donations but were unable to attend the day’s event.
The proceeds from this event came from the ‘Salute to our Veterans’ event that Blue Chip holds each year to honor and aid veterans in Northwest Indiana, a mission that is important to Blue Chip Casino, and one to which they annually dedicate themselves.
“It’s a motorcycle ride and dinner where everybody comes together to have a good time and we always have a speaker as well. This year, it was Brian Adams from the Speakers Bureau in New Jersey and he spoke about his time as an Army Sniper, and how he came back into the community and back into school,” said Assistant General Manager of Blue Chip Casino, Jack Elia, of the success of the event held earlier this year and the veterans’ stories it brings to life.
The recipients were each presented with their checks which will go towards each of these worthy causes and their work to help veterans in various communities across Northwest Indiana. Porter-Starke is one such organization, and their emphasis on health led them to address the lack of public knowledge on how to aid veterans who might be having an attack due to PTSD.
“Proceeds from this event allow us to provide mental health first aid for veterans,” said Jessica McFadden, Foundation Coordinator of Porter-Starke Services. “It’s an eight-hour training course for anyone who works with, lives with or knows veterans. People know how to give first aid and do CPR, but how do you react when someone is suffering from an attack from PTSD?”
“Each of these classes are free, and we’ve trained about 75 people so far,” said McFadden of her organization which is helping educate members of the community on how to deal with PTSD sufferers with dignity in La Porte, Porter and Lake counties.
Other groups, like Housing Opportunities, were also excited about what this would mean for their programs and how it would impact veterans positively, especially those struggling to find housing and address mental health issues.
“These funds help us directly with our temporary housing program, which is just an immediate need of housing and that’s our largest funding gap, so this is a great asset for us to be able to fill that gap and serve the veterans that serve our country,” said Caren Furdeck, Director of Development at Housing Opportunities.
Judge Jeffrey Thorne of La Porte County’s Superior Court 3 was also in attendance, representing the La Porte County Veterans Treatment Court, which uses the justice system to try and find a path to a law-abiding and stable life for veterans who are having issues or difficulties due to their experiences in combat.
“The La Porte County Veterans Treatment Court is a program that gives opportunities to veterans who have run afoul of the criminal justice system. For those who qualify, according to our requirements and what the prosecuting attorney is willing to do and the defense attorney as well as the veteran himself; once everyone agrees this person is a good candidate for the program they can enter. The treatment can last for one to two years and will handle a number of things from PTSD, alcohol, or depression, and we deal with those issues to help them get back on the right path,” said Judge Thorne.
Money raised for the group will go to treatment, testing and training for their mentors and staff members. Judge Thorne would also like to send team members to the national convention next summer in Washington D.C., which would be a beneficial experience for them.
Though not in attendance, Operation Combat Bikesaver will also benefit in their mission to restore and build bikes, which they donate to veterans in need. Also receiving donations was Empowering Patriots, which matches veterans with rescue dogs who help to calm them and ease the symptoms of their PTSD.
“Blue Chip and Boyd Gaming, our parent company, feel it’s necessary to give back to the community. We do quite a bit with the United Way and Michigan City School Corporation and we really wanted to do something for our veterans, so a couple years ago we started this event,” said Elia.
“We have a good mix of groups here today that really covers every aspect [of PTSD care]. And the thing that was really important to us is that we didn’t want to just deal with agencies in La Porte County. We wanted this to be a Northwest Indiana event, so we deal with agencies in Lake, La Porte, and Porter county,” said Elia of the wide reach of the proceeds from the event.
All of the proceeds for this event go back to groups that service veterans, specifically that help with PTSD sufferers in some way. All of the organizations are classified as 501(c)(3) as well.