Service Credit Union was proud to host the ninth-annual Seacoast Veterans Conference, held at the company’s corporate headquarters in Portsmouth on Saturday, April 13.
The theme of this year’s conference was “The Path to Wellness, Leaving Stigma Behind,” with keynote speeches focusing on mental health issues and how to change the discussion around them. Over a dozen exhibitor booths offered resources on all aspects of veteran aid, from health and wellness to financial resources.
“Service Credit Union has been serving the military and veterans since 1957 and this event is one way we can give back to veterans for all they have done for our community and our country. The conference provides a unique venue for veterans to meet providers and agencies specializing in providing benefits and services to the military,” said David Araujo, President-CEO of Service Credit Union.
Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., recognized Service Credit Union for its support of the military during the recent government shutdown and praised the credit union’s military and veteran-focused products such as low-interest loans. He also acknowledged the state of New Hampshire for its support of veterans, saying, “Thank you for what you do and thank you for coming together at a conference like this.”
The day’s first keynote speaker, former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, who currently works with Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s R.E.A.C.T Mental Health Awareness Campaign, shared a very personal story of his son’s own battle with mental illness, and reminded the audience, “Mental illness is not a weakness, it’s a health issue. …Just because we can’t blood test it or put a cast on it doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
Brig. Gen. Carolyn J. Protzmann (Ret.), the event’s master of ceremonies, noted that 1 in 5 adults in America is dealing with mental illness. However, due to the challenges of recognizing the symptoms of mental illness as well as the stigma around the topic, many do not get the help they need until it is too late.
“We need to become colorblind to mental illness. Open your hearts and minds,” added Broderick.
Additional speakers included Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc (Ret.), who discussed his own experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and how his service dog Victor, has helped him with his struggles; AARP New Hampshire State President and volunteer Marc Boyd, who spoke about fraud scams targeting veterans; and Betsy Hart of Home Base, who spoke about hope for invisible wounds.
For more resources on how to help those who may be suffering from mental illness, including recognizing the five warning signs of mental health issues, visit giveanhour.org.