Mission 22: This Organization Helps Veterans Mitigate The Effects Of Traumatic Experiences

By Amit Chowdhry ● Jul 10, 2023

Mission 22 is a company that provides support to veterans and their families when they need it the most: right now. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Mission 22 CEO Sara Johnson to learn more about the company.

Sara Johnson’s Background

Sara Johnson

Johnson is a Daughter of the Revolution so her family history is deeply intertwined with military service, as they have had members serve in every conflict since the Revolutionary War. 

“I have witnessed firsthand the impact of service, the sense of community it brings, and the challenges of post-traumatic stress (PTS). My journey with Mission 22 began as a personal mission to support my Green Beret husband through his transition out of the military, and it has grown into a national charge to end Veteran suicide in America,” said Johnson.

Formation Of Mission 22

How did the idea for Mission 22 come together? “Mission 22 was sparked by a profound need and a personal experience. My husband, Magnus, a combat veteran, had been out of the Army for a year when he lost a good friend to suicide. It was 2012, and the first report on veteran suicide had just been released, revealing a crisis that was largely unknown to the public,” Johnson explained. “I come from a long line of military veterans and I had no idea just how bad it was. Magnus realized that if he wasn’t aware of these issues, how could we expect the community to understand and provide support?  Mission 22 was entirely Magnus’ vision, and we worked together to address this critical issue. While we have more veteran charities and medical expertise available today than ever before, the veteran suicide rate remains staggeringly high. Mission 22 was created by combat veterans with PTS and traumatic brain injury (TBI) who understand the unique experiences and challenges veterans face. We believe that it takes more than prescriptions and therapy to heal from PTS—it requires embarking on a journey of personal growth and recovery. Our goal is to provide veterans and their families with the tools and resources they need to grow bigger than their trauma and to become the pillars of the community that they are.”

Favorite Memory

What has been Johnson’s favorite memory working for Mission 22 so far? “There have been many memorable moments throughout my journey with Mission 22, but one that stands out is the dedication of the War at Home Memorial in Oklahoma. Witnessing the unity between the native nations and the city to honor the veterans represented in the memorial was a beautiful thing to be a part of,” Johnson reflected. “They really took the memorial on as their own and have honored it in such a beautiful way. A moment that touched my heart deeply was standing with a mother in front of a 10-foot-tall likeness of her son. Tears streamed down her face as she spoke of loss, joy, and healing. It was a profound reminder of the impact of our work and the importance of providing support and recognition for the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.”

Challenges Faced

What are some of the challenges Johnson faced in building Mission 22? “Building Mission 22 has had its fair share of challenges. One of the key obstacles is addressing the deeply personal and complex nature of PTS, which can vary significantly from one veteran to another,” Johnson acknowledged. “Compounding this is the challenge of shifting public perception and confronting preconceived notions about the ‘broken veteran’ stereotype, a label that unfortunately, some veterans internalize. Our mission is to change this narrative, transitioning the conversation from Post Traumatic Stress to one of Post Traumatic Growth. Showing the potential for healing, evolution, and opportunity to build resilience. These challenges, as formidable as they may be, serve as catalysts for learning and growth, strengthening our determination to deliver the most effective support for our veterans and their families.”

Resources Offered

What are some of the resources that Mission 22 offers for veterans to support healing in their lives? “Mission 22 provides resources for veterans to help them navigate their journey to peace and resilience. We offer the Resiliency and Recovery (RR) program that guides warriors through a year-long journey of physical, mental, and emotional recovery. Each participant also receives a Garmin Fenix Pro 6 to track their health data in real-time, and they get supported by Post Traumatic Growth Facilitators and a community of fellow veterans,” Johnson replied. “A crucial part of our program is the RR Spouse Program. We understand that the family plays a vital role in a veteran’s healing process. This program is designed to extend our support network to the spouses of veterans, offering them a 6-month version of R+R that is built just for them. It’s all about creating an environment where both the veterans and their families can grow and heal together.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of Mission 22’s most significant milestones? “Some of Mission 22’s most significant milestones include the establishment of our Recovery + Resiliency and Elements programs and the growth of our Ambassador program,” Johnson pointed out. “We’ve seen incredible success with these programs, with so many veterans making strides toward healing and recovery. We have also seen a significant reporting of participants that go from high levels of PTS symptoms to subclinical at the end of R+R”

Funding

Mission 22 is a non-profit organization and the organization generates revenues through donations and fundraising activities. “We are committed to using these funds responsibly to provide the best possible support to our veterans,” Johnson noted.

Importance Of Public Awareness

“One area that we haven’t touched upon earlier as much is the importance of public awareness and understanding when it comes to the experiences and struggles of veterans, particularly those dealing with PTS. As a society, it’s crucial that we foster an environment that encourages empathy, compassion, and understanding. This involves not only supporting organizations like Mission 22 but also educating ourselves and others about the realities of military service and the complexities of post-traumatic growth,” Johnson observed. “We as a community should also discuss the role of families in the healing journey. Many times, the families of veterans are the unsung heroes, providing support and care in the backdrop. They, too, face significant challenges and require understanding and support. The community, both at the local and national levels, can actively participate in supporting veterans and programs like Mission 22’s. This can range from volunteering with organizations and providing employment opportunities for veterans to simply lending a listening ear to their stories. We all have a role to play in ensuring they receive the care and support they deserve.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates Mission 22 from its competition? “At Mission 22, we don’t consider other organizations as competitors. Instead, we see them as potential partners in our shared mission to support our veterans. Our goal is to collaborate and work together to tackle the challenges our veterans face,” Johnson responded. “One of the unique aspects of Mission 22 is our approach toward Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). We don’t view it as a disorder but as an injury that can lead to growth. Our focus is on Post Traumatic Growth, the concept that individuals can emerge stronger and with purpose after traumatic experiences. Combat veterans built our organization with personal experiences of PTS and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This direct experience and understanding of the challenges faced by veterans set us apart. We bring an empathetic and comprehensive approach to our work, using scientifically backed techniques and practices to help veterans regain mental clarity, balance, and overall well-being.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of Mission 22’s future company goals? “As Mission 22 continues to grow, we have set several goals that we aim to achieve. One of our main objectives is to expand the reach of our current programs to assist as many veterans as possible. In addition, we would like to see programs similar to Resiliency and Recovery (RR) established within the military itself. We believe that equipping our service members with resilience skills even before they face combat can help in mitigating the effects of traumatic experiences later. We view this as a form of preventive healthcare that could make a significant difference in the lives of our service members,” Johnson concluded. “Finally, we’re always striving to find new and innovative ways to support our veterans. Whether it’s through partnerships with other organizations, the development of new programs, or the continued improvement of our existing ones, we are committed to serving our veterans and their families to the best of our abilities.”