The CJ3 Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity organization serving our Nation’s wounded Heroes – Wounded/Disabled U.S. Military Service Members/Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and Emergency/First Responders. We do this through four primary
Initiatives: (1) CJ3 Advocacy, (2) CJ3 Mental Health & Wellness, (3) CJ3 Service Dogs, and (4) CJ3 Field Ops. The CJ3 Foundation’s Founder and Director is Eric D. Thomas, a 100% total and permanent disabled combat U.S. Army Veteran from the Iraq/Afghanistan war era with a service dog, a Belgian Malinois named Havoc. Mr. Thomas is functioning in what is perceived by him to be a ‘dysfunctional world,’ though he fully recognizes that he is the one who is perceived by the world as ‘the dysfunctional one.’
Mr. Thomas struggled his way through the Veterans Affairs maze and then began working his way through an overwhelming number of nonprofit veteran organizations (VSOs) that are out there. The experience was quite frustrating, although it proved to be quite educational. An excerpt from a NY Times article entitled, “Veterans’ Groups Compete With Each Other and Struggle With the V.A.” by Jennifer Steinhauer, 4 January 2019 may provide historical underpinnings that help explain some of the current problems Veterans are experiencing.
For generations, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts have been as integral to American political culture as pancake breakfasts, town squares, and state fairs. In advocating for veterans — among the country’s most revered and coveted voters — the groups have wielded unquestioned power on Capitol Hill and inside the White House.
Now, nearly a generation after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the oldest and largest veterans’ service organizations — known colloquially as “the Big Six” — are seeing their influence diluted, as newer, smaller organizations focused on post-9/11 veterans compete for money, political influence, and relevance.
The newer organizations reflect cultural shifts in a smaller community of younger and increasingly diverse veterans who are replacing the older, predominantly male veterans — many of them having served because of a draft, for now, long-ago wars.
Leaner and more financially efficient than their predecessors, these newer veterans’ organizations focus on issues such as education and job training rather than on brick-and-mortar meeting spaces for veterans to gather or on resources spent lobbying in Washington.
In addition, many officials of the newer organizations say, their goals are to integrate veterans back into civilian communities where they feel misunderstood and have lost ties while helping civilians who have had little contact with veterans — active-duty troops make up less than 1 percent of the United States population — understand their experiences.
At times, the politically progressive leaders of some of the organizations — many from the Vietnam era — take positions that appear out of step with more socially conservative members from previous wars. This has irritated Robert L. Wilkie, the Veterans Affairs secretary, who views these as unwelcome partisan positions, said several agencies and veterans’ group officials.
Mr. Thomas persevered, ultimately meeting with successes in navigating the systems; he sought out and worked with legislators and seniors within the Veterans Affairs system and within the VSO groups, as well. Ultimately, he discovered that he had become an unofficial
advocate for numerous disabled Veterans looking for guidance and assistance. He was helping these Veterans in his personal time, often having to rely on the goodwill of other VSOs.
One of the conclusions Mr. Thomas found going through this process is that there are not enough agencies/organizations to effectively and efficiently provide service dogs to Veterans in need. Many agencies/organizations have over a two-year waiting list/order of merit list (OML
to issue service dogs. Also, there are not many agencies/organizations that provide service dogs to Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and Emergency/First Responders. Another significant finding is that many of these agencies/organizations only assist Veterans in a single issue; i.e. service dogs only, mental health only, physical health only, and/or rest & relaxation experiences only. Mr. Thomas also identified numerous issues with agencies/organizations providing ineffective Mental Health and wellness services.
Initially, Mr. Thomas was not sure he wanted to start a charity as he is a husband, father, and grandfather with a full-time government job. The need for someone with access to appropriate resources and who has an in-depth understanding of the community was apparent.
In response, Mr. Thomas decided to create the CJ3 Foundation. Mr. Thomas, with the help of some very compassionate and hardworking friends, took on the task of putting in the arduous work of building and forming the CJ3 Foundation and its support network. The CJ3 Foundation is incorporated and is an approved 501(c)(3) public charity foundation. Since its inception (and even while building and developing it, the CJ3 Foundation received a flood of individuals coming to the Foundation seeking assistance and we have built a “Dream Team” of wonderful individuals and partners with a desire to help our wounded American Heroes. The CJ3 Foundation stands ready to serve our Nation’s wounded heroes!
Mr. Thomas has no desire to replicate, compete with, or take away from, what other phenomenal Veteran support agencies/organizations are doing, rather the CJ3 Foundation attempts to augment them and assist in eliminating the backlog by providing advocacy, mental health & wellness, service dogs, and outdoor activities to Recipients (wounded/disabled U.S. Military Service Members, Veterans, Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and Emergency/First Responders) who need them. The CJ3 Foundation works as an interlocutor for and with other VSOs and non-profits who have similar goals to assist veterans in need. We are merely filling a gap to prevent Veterans in need from falling into the cracks and disappearing. We have lost too many of our brothers and sisters already!