Leading the Warrior's Journey Towards Healing Invisible Wounds
In the world of veterans' service organizations, few names shine as brightly as The Warrior's Journey (TWJ). Established in 2015 and headquartered in Springfield, MO, with an additional office in Germany and satellite locations within the Continental United States, TWJ has been a beacon of hope for veterans facing invisible wounds – those often-overlooked scars that can lead to isolation, addiction, and tragically, suicide.
At the helm of this remarkable organization stands Kevin Weaver, a man whose life journey has been intricately woven with a profound commitment to serving his country and supporting those who bear the burdens of military service. As the co-founder, president, and CEO of TWJ, Kevin has not only carried the torch of his family's longstanding tradition of service, but has also emerged as a recognized and sought-after expert in the field of military resiliency and invisible wounds. Under Kevin's visionary leadership, TWJ has evolved into a premier veteran’s service organization, receiving special recognition from the Department of Defense, government legislators, and the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps. Thus far, TWJ has provided resources and services to over 2 million warriors and military leaders, and they have extended ongoing support to over 15,000 warriors and their families.
TWJ's mission can be distilled into two critical pillars: Prevention and Intervention. They understand that while there are outstanding organizations addressing the physical wounds of combat, the invisible wounds often remain unnoticed, leading to brokenness and despair. TWJ, in collaboration with a data team at The Harvard School of Business and the United States Chaplain Corps, has diligently identified the most common challenges faced by our warriors. Their efforts have resulted in the creation of preventative resources aimed at educating and preparing them for their military journey and beyond. Moreover, TWJ recognizes that moments of crisis are not confined to the battlefield. The stress of reintegration, the enduring effects of survivor guilt, and feelings of isolation, loss, and moral injury can surface at any time. To address this, TWJ has assembled a team of veterans who offer real-time crisis intervention. Confidential and empathetic, these veterans serve as personal advocates, or "battle buddies," guiding their fellow warriors through the healing process.
Kevin's connection to the military runs deep, stemming from generations past. His great-great-grandfather's service during the Civil War planted the seed of duty and honor in his family tree. Kevin's father, a government contractor during the Vietnam War, played a crucial role in aerospace defense and engineering, supporting the war effort. It was through these familial ties that Kevin's dedication to serving his country was nurtured. Kevin's personal journey took him into the U.S. Air Force, where he served in the Security Forces at the 24th Security Police Squadron and with the Office of Special Investigations at U.S. Southern Command in the Republic of Panama from 1983 to 1987. He also spent 32 years as a minister with a focus on support to military members, veterans, and their families before founding TWJ, showcasing his unwavering commitment to both faith and service.
Kevin's dedication to service and leadership have illuminated a path towards healing invisible wounds for countless veterans. We spoke with Kevin to learn more about why he started The Warrior's Journey and how it differs from other VA programs.
What prompted you to start The Warrior’s Journey? Was there a specific instance that motivated you?
When my nephew, a Marine, graduated high school, he was sent to Iraq and saw combat during the First Wave at Falluja. When he completed that tour, he was part of just a few in his unit who wasn’t wounded or killed. That experience left him with a lot of invisible challenges, and he turned to me for support. I didn’t know exactly how to help him, but I had some limited combat experience while serving in the USAF, so he trusted me. We spent quality time talking, but mostly, I just listened. In 2006, he was deployed again as a Marine sniper. Tragically, his company commander was killed during that deployment. When my nephew returned home, he greeted the commander’s wife. She hugged him and said, “Thanks for taking care of my husband.” My nephew had difficulty processing that. Through further intimate talks with him, I witnessed how he gained strength by verbally processing these traumatic experiences. I truly believed if we could create a group of military members and veterans who could listen to others who are serving or have served, it would work as a profound, cathartic opportunity brining healing. So, The Warrior’s Journey was born, and so much of our development was inspired by the healing conversations I had with my nephew.
Kevin, what is the most common obstacle that prevents service members from seeking help?
We discovered that this obstacle varies by gender. For male service members, a prevailing obstacle is a sense of duty and stoicism, where they often feel the need to "buck up" and ignore their emotional or mental challenges in favor of fulfilling their mission. This can lead to them remaining silent and carrying on despite their struggles. On the other hand, female service members commonly face obstacles related to sexual trauma or abuse, with many cases going unreported. Overall, the belief that they cannot relay or discuss their need for help and the fear of vulnerability are significant barriers to seeking assistance.
How is The Warrior’s Journey unique from other veterans’ organizations?
The Warrior's Journey is unique in several ways. First, all the services we offer are entirely free to military personnel, veterans, and their families. This inclusivity ensures that financial constraints do not hinder access to vital support. Secondly, we provide a comprehensive range of services in-house, including transitional support and leadership coaching. We also operate a robust case management system and have a network of 200 warrior connectors who can offer guidance and support. We have successfully prevented over 1,800 suicide scenarios, ensuring no lives were lost. Lastly, what truly sets us apart is our holistic approach; we address the well-being of the mind, body, soul, and spirit of those we serve.
Kevin holds a BA in pastoral ministries and missiology and an MA in organizational leadership. He has also received a Certificate of Leadership Development on National Security and Strategy from U.S. Army War College, Professional Coach Certification from International Coach Federation, and completed programs for Harrison Assessments Debriefing & Coaching, as well as Harrison Assessments Employee Development.
Co-Founder, President, and CEO of The Warrior’s Journey