Posted: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 By Karen Cernich, Feature Writer
It seems unimaginable that a group of men and women living with serious conditions like traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress can, in just seven days time, go from feeling despair and hopelessness about their lives to feeling confident and optimistic.
But Ted Kretschmar and Tom Ilges see it happen every few months with the Marines and Navy corpsmen who attend the FOCUS Marines Foundation program on a secluded farm near Augusta.
FOCUS Marines Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by a group of more than 65 Marine veterans in the St. Louis area to help U.S. wounded warriors returning from the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Our mission is to develop and administer programs for wounded warriors that will assist them in their transition from military to civilian lives,” said Kretschmar, vice president of development who served six years in the Navy and four years in the Marine Corps between Korean and Vietnam wars.
The men who founded the nonprofit first came together in 2002 at Deer Creek Country Club to determine what they could do to help the returning veterans, said Kretschmar.
“Most are Vietnam-era veterans, who came home to a very poor reception. They did not want these returning Marines to go through what they had,” he said.
They decided to form an organization, which they originally called Midwest Marine Foundation. The name has since been changed to FOCUS.
“A lot of people thought it was only dealing with Marines in the Midwest,” Kretschmar explained. “We bring Marines in from coast to coast, even Hawaii. They pay nothing.”
The weeklong FOCUS program is offered four times a year for veterans….READ FULL eMISSOURIAN ARTICLE HERE.