ImageOur speaker this week will be Joy Jewett Johnson. She is a “Mainer” from Bucksport and Founder and Executive Director of 'Embrace A Vet.' Joy graduated from the University of Maine with a BA in Sociology and has worked in the social services field most of her adult life. Her affinity for our military veterans grew from being the daughter of a Navy pilot, and later, being married to a career naval officer who was on active duty for 36 years. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, as well as other grass roots organizations providing services to military members, both at home and abroad. While living in Italy, she formed an organization titled "REACH" (Ready, Eager And Caring Hands), where military service members volunteered their time at orphanages, drug rehabilitation facilities and a halfway house for juvenile offenders.

At one time, there were 22 recorded veteran suicides per day and Maine was having one of the highest veteran populations per capita, so there was work to be done. In 2011 'Embrace A Vet' was founded. Since that time, an incredible cadre of volunteers have come forth to help achieve the mission of providing services to Maine Veterans with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and/or Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and to their families.

'Embrace A Vet' is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization founded in 2012 to provide direct and supportive services to Maine Veterans living with symptoms of PTS(d) and/or traumatic injury. They offer two unique programs: Residential Healing and Wellness Retreats, where they introduce participants to alternative healing modalities and the 'Paws for Peace' dog program, where they assist veterans in locating, purchasing and training suitable dogs to become full-service dogs. Currently they are developing a third program for caregivers and family members of veterans. All three of these programs are without cost to the participants. Funds are raised through public and private donations. (