December 2015

It Takes a Village

Author: Courtney Hampson

The world is small. Bluffton and Hilton Head seem to be the sun sometimes, everyone and everything revolving around them. One can easily play six degrees of separation—or more likely two or three degrees. And that warms my heart. Two and a half years ago, I had one of those “worlds colliding” moments that has turned into so much more.

In April of 2013, I stood on the banks of the May River at Palmetto Bluff with our (yes, after 10 years as marketing director, sometimes I do indeed consider the Bluff “mine”) chef and two representatives of a local foundation, Honor Our Heroes (HOH), who were presenting Hilton Head native and Army Infantryman Jared Mayhew with a $1,000 small business grant to support his new company, The J&W Oyster Co. They asked if they could take the picture at the Bluff, since Palmetto Bluff was Mayhew’s first customer. We happily obliged, and on that day, we also met Jake Walsh, veteran and founder of Honor Our Heroes and Joe Mezera, a board member for the organization.

Born of that seemingly simple photo shoot was a more in-depth conversation with Walsh, two stories about him and Honor Our Heroes in this very magazine, and Palmetto Bluff’s support for the non-profit through “our” annual Christmas Movie on the Green. HOH’s mission is to alleviate veterans’ stress while honoring their sacrifices. Their programs provide small business grants, short-term financial assistance, educational assistance, and mental health and wellness referrals to local veterans.

For the last year and a half, HOH has been focused on helping veterans battling PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), by working in partnership with BrainCore of the Lowcountry to establish a BrainCore Therapy study. In the United States, over 364,000 people have been treated for PTSD in the last 12 years. “Most of these people served in a war, but a traumatic event like assault, an accident or disaster can cause the disorder,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

BrainCore Therapy is a drugless approach to treating the symptoms of PTSD, which can include anxiety, depression, insomnia, mood swings, and inability to focus—all behaviors that create irregular brain waves. These irregularities, called brainwave dysregulation, result from tension on the nervous system caused by, among other things, trauma. This type of therapy is designed to retrain brainwave patterns. The goal is to transform unhealthy, dysregulated imbalances into normal, healthy, organized patterns. By doing this, the brain becomes more stable and is able to operate optimally and efficiently. Walsh himself went through 80 sessions of this type of therapy and happily saw positive results.

Through a series of generous donations to underwrite the costs of launching the study, HOH is now “recruiting” veteran participants with a diagnosis of PTSD, traumatic brain injury or related symptomatology. Participants will undergo 60-80 therapy sessions, a commitment of two to three sessions a week, which can cost up to $8,500 per participant. HOH is continuing to raise funds to underwrite the costs of treatment.

And, speaking of that small world… it was a conversation with Walsh and Mezera last December, at the Christmas movie, that got me hooked on Service Brewing Company. Never one to turn down a beer tasting, I visited the brewery in Savannah earlier this year.

There you are immediately struck by the décor elements that were core to owner Kevin Ryan’s military career. Everything in the brewery—the work of talented artists and veteran craftsman—is carefully curated by Meredith Sutton, a 2003 SCAD graduation, notable artist, and Ryan’s partner in the venture, and life.

The parachute that hangs in soft drapes on the wall across from the bar is an ode to infantry airmen. The back bar composed of two stacked containers mimics the container that Ryan and nine other soldiers called home while stationed in Iraq. The handcrafted bar and chalkboard (where customers are encouraged to leave notes about how they serve their community) symbolizes a patchwork of history, pieced together with reclaimed wood.

Even Blackhawk and Shinook, the guard cats of the Brewery, are named to pay homage to military service. Rescued during the renovations, the two felines take their jobs seriously.
There is a reason for everything you see and taste (and believe me, I have done the legwork and you should tickle your own taste buds sometime soon) at Service Brewing Company. But nothing is nobler than their commitment to donate a portion of their revenues to assist charities that support service members.

Just a few weeks ago, Ryan and Sutton presented HOH with a check for $2,121, a result of their summer charitable efforts. Their contribution gets one local veteran one step closer to feeling whole again. 

How You Can Help Honor Our Heroes
Christmas Movie on the Green
Palmetto Bluff
Friday, December 11
6 p.m.
Palmetto Bluff is bringing some holiday spirit to the Lowcountry through its annual Christmas in the Village celebration with the help of a very special Elf. On Friday, December 11, Palmetto Bluff will transform the Wilson Village Green into an outdoor movie theater for an under-the-stars showing of Elf, A Christmas Movie.
Pack your car with friends, family and a blanket, and the Bluff will provide the movie snacks (candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup!) and hot cocoa.
$20 will be collected per car at the gate, 100 percent of which will benefit Honor Our Heroes Foundation.

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