Goodwill Manasota, Women’s Resource Center launch BRAVE Networking Program for veterans

Partnership effort to provide free mental health counseling, as well as networking and pet therapy, for local veterans

Published Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Goodwill Manasota's BRAVE Networking Program for veteransSARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – This month, Goodwill Manasota and the Women’s Resource Center of Manatee and Sarasota (WRC) will launch the BRAVE (Benefits, Resources and Veterans Education) Networking Program. Through this partnership, the two organizations will be able to make mental health care available for all local veterans at no cost. 

Goodwill Manasota believes the collaboration is a great way to expand services to a population that is in desperate need of mental health support. 

“Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives – that's a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as that number is, it may actually be higher,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “Mental health services are essential in order to help veterans recover from their combat experiences and mental health issues related to their military service. We have already received a tremendous outpouring of community support, which will help increase the effectiveness and reach of the program.”

Beginning on October 12 and then taking place every Wednesday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Goodwill Veterans Resource Center (8490 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota), veterans are invited to network with other veterans and counselors from the Women’s Resource Center and Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program team. Program participants will also be able to enjoy the company of therapy dogs provided by Paws And Warriors Foundation (PAWs). Individual sessions with counselors will be available by appointment.  

“We recognized the need to move quickly and, through our collaboration with Goodwill Manasota, established the BRAVE Networking program for veterans in need of mental health support in our community,” said Ashley Brown, executive director of WRC. “This initiative is a natural extension of the efforts Women’s Resource Center engages in to change lives and strengthen our community. We are proud to be involved in this worthy program."

Many returning veterans suffer debilitating psychological wounds. Many more servicemen and women have been lost due to suicide than in combat. The system is overwhelmed by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of the 1.7 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 (20 percent) suffer from PTSD or major depression. The Department of Veterans Affairs also estimates that nearly 13,000 of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have alcohol dependence syndrome: in a survey of all veterans, 7.1 percent (1.8 million people) meet the criteria for a substance abuse disorder. A number of troubling statistics highlight the great need in our area to do more to help veterans struggling with mental health issues.

The program was started through a group of generous donors who donated $22 each to kick-start the effort. For more information or to make a donation, visit


Photo ID: (From l-r) LaVonne Bower, Paws And Warriors (PAWs); Ashley Brown, executive director, WRC; C.J. Bannister, director, Veterans Services Program; and Chris Braun, program director, WRC (front, seated) with therapy dog Oz

About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit