Heroes in Transition founder \\ Building a compassionate haven for veterans and their families
Establishing a sense of community is a product of compassion, support, and dedication to those around you. Cyndy Jones, co-founder with her late husband of Heroes in Transition, radiates such qualities, especially when discussing her nonprofit that has offered a helping hand to veterans and their families across the Cape. Through a decade’s work, Jones and her amazing executive director, Nicole Spencer, and all of the HIT team have created a thoughtful, tight-knit community united by a common bond.
In 2009, Captain Eric Jones, a marine helicopter pilot, lost his life in a combat mission in Afghanistan. That same year, his mother, Cyndy Jones, founded Heroes in Transition (HIT) in his memory, with a vision to assist veterans and their families on Cape Cod. The organization created four missions for assistance, including home modification, financial support, transitional support groups, and service dogs for veterans. “I think we all come into this world for a purpose, and I think Eric fulfilled his purpose. He knew what he wanted in life and he achieved his goal. So, he left us with a job to do,” Jones reflects.
What started with these four key missions has evolved into finding new ways to unite veterans. “We began to ask how we could bring these men and women together who have a shared background and that military history. That is why our transitional groups started growing. It began with a family equine program called Families in Transition (FIT),” Jones says. The popular program is held for three weeks in the summer at Camp Lyndon in Sandwich, a peaceful lakeside stable. The horses, as Jones emphasizes, create a calming and healing atmosphere. “We do equine therapy for an hour where every family is given a horse. After that we provide dinner, followed by family counseling. We see such a change in the spouses and children by pairing them with a horse. Horses are magical, they truly mirror our souls.”
The success of the equine program prompted HIT to question how they could assist spouses. Soon, their couples group was born, hosting monthly activities. “The couples do yoga, meditation, bowling, or sailing in the summertime. After the activity, we provide a meal in a local restaurant,” Jones explains.
“With the couples groups, we also decided to do retreats. Our couples retreats are really based on communication. Last year, in 2019, we had a psychologist on board, Dr. Marie Bartram. She and three others were trained in a program called PAIRS that teaches how to communicate in relationships. We had twenty-six couples for our fall retreat this past October. We found that the couples just enjoy being together, meandering and mixing and creating community.” Now, the team is hosting spring retreats based on the same idea.
For veterans without a spouse, HIT’s veterans group is open to all, married or single, who meet for an activity every other month. While those groups meet, spouses can gather for their own activity, allowing all to bond and share their experiences.
Most recently, Jones and the HIT team shifted to support female veterans and spouses. The team created REBOOT, a mind, body, and soul program involving one full-day retreat for seven consecutive Tuesdays. “Each week is a lesson that builds on the previous one. It’s all about resiliency and how to deal with stressors. Females have different stressors in the military or as a spouse of a veteran. Our key activities are yoga, meditation, and reiki,” Jones discusses. REBOOT will begin in January and conclude in March with a final retreat.
Throughout her years in Heroes in Transition, Jones’ continuous consideration of all groups, including veterans, their spouses and children, as well as prioritizing female empowerment, has been an uplifting force. As for her biggest takeaway from this journey, it comes back to the people. “The greatest thing I have learned is the openness and compassion that people have. This work has been beautiful. We have developed a community and it is truly like a big family.”
For more information, visit heroesintransition.org!
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