Warrior's Hope offers peer support to area veterans

Nov 13, 2012 by Fred D. Cavinder

Every Tuesday is Veterans Day for Loren Minnix and his organization, Warrior’s Hope. That’s when past and present members of any military group gather in Minnix’s office in Greenwood to deal with life’s challenges.

“We focus mostly on issues of life — anger, frustration, unemployability,” said Minnix. “Guys get in a pickle, sometimes with their spouses, so we just hash out life in general.”

Minnix is president of Warrior’s Hope Inc., a nonprofit that has sessions where any veteran of any war of any gender can unload, maybe find helpful insight. Drugs, alcoholism, scrapes with the law, being a workaholic often are topics.

The organization started in 2005 with a meeting in the library at Camp Atterbury.

“I can account for around 155 veterans who have gone through our peer support group,” said Minnix, himself a Marine veteran of the Vietnam era. His hearing started going bad when he was in a mortar unit.

The 68-year-old has recently retired from the plumbing business in Greenwood, which also was the occupation of his father, grandfather and brothers. Along the way he acquired a degree in Interpersonal and Group Communications from Trinity College in Deerfield, Ill., is an ordained minister, has done counseling in his church and volunteered for Christian ministries. Mission trips overseas have often involved his plumbing expertise.

“I like to talk to people and get people talking,” Minnix said.

Warrior’s Hope is a perfect outlet, although five facilitators also are involved. Meetings, although they have a core of free expression, begin with a preamble that sets out rules and aims, plus a reading that is often inspirational. The group regularly uses and discusses books, such as “Feeling Good” by clinical psychiatrist Dr. David Burns, or similar personal-growth volumes.

“Most of our gang will start showing up about 5:30 p.m., just chomping at the bit to get started,” said Minnix. The meetings at 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. “One Tuesday night we had a Gulf War representative and Vietnam, Korea and World War II represented.”

Spouses come and are welcomed, but seldom continue regularly, Minnix said. But a former lady Marine is often present.

“When you’re a peer support group, everybody is allowed to speak their mind,” said Minnix. “There’ve been a couple of times I’ve said, ‘There’ll be no more of that.’”

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The average group in Minnix’s office is around 12, he said; the largest number has been 22, including up to four female vets.

“We’re not a club, so we’re not counting heads,” Minnix said. “Just about every Tuesday there’s a new face. We don’t consider ourselves a religious group, but we do consider ourselves a group that has a strong spiritual emphasis.

“If we have some folks come in who really need to unload or talk, we let them do that,” he said.

Minnix is an active motivational and inspirational speaker, one way of spreading the word about Warrior’s Hope. It exists through donations; there are no membership fees. There is an overseeing three-man board of directors. Minnix also is the American Legion representative at the Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center in Indianapolis, where he maintains an office.

Beyond basic structure, Warrior’s Hope meetings are highly flexible. “If the group’s accepting, then your facilitator is accepting. But if you find somebody is talking and you feel the tension starting to mount, then the facilitator’s job is to keep the conversation mutual and agreeable,” Minnix said.

“I think some of our younger veterans feel pretty strongly about issues of the day and we certainly like to let them share that,” he said. Vets at Warrior’s Hope are age 20 to 91.

Most vets come from Johnson County and south Marion County, Minnix said. Employment hours and distance are limiting, he admits.

Minnix also is chairman of the Greenwood Memorial Steering Committee. It is collecting funds for a memorial to all the military services, policemen and firemen in Greenwood’s Freedom Park. Space has been allotted and the plaza designed The monetary goal is $500,000, Minnix said.

A six-foot sculptured eagle, which will surmount the memorial, has been acquired.

Minnix also is involved with establishment of the Veterans Court in Greenwood. A veteran in legal trouble can opt to appear in that court or, depending on the violation, circumstances and military record, might be sent to a Veterans Administration facility for treatment instead of jail, Minnix said.

But every Tuesday Minnix joins his fellow vets. “I can’t think of anything I’d rather do,” he said.

“We don’t let our reading control the group, but we always have the reading, maybe from a book, the Bible, inspirational, psychological, spiritual or the like."

“We’re a peer group where veterans sit around and discuss the issues of life,” he said.

For information visit http://WarriorsHope.com

“We focus mostly on issues of life — anger, frustration, unemployability... Guys get in a pickle, sometimes with their spouses, so we just hash out life in general.”