OPERATION LYONS HEART - A VA Revitalization Mission

OPERATION LYONS HEART - A VA Revitalization Mission

March 9, 2022
Signatures: 352Next Goal: 500
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by Frank Mello


1. The PTSD Program at the Lyons, NJ VA has been of immeasurable help to generations of veterans & their families. Over time, elements of the program have fallen away; more was lost during covid, leaving 12 hrs of classes, 2 hrs of Recreation Therapy weekly, lost extracurriculars, & a still lingering covid-campus-restriction policy.

2. We're seeking the restoration of the Lyons PTSD program & it's full servicesWe're not asking for something new, just the funding & reinstatement of the previous therapeutic offerings (see below) 

3. Lets's resurrect this program & its ability to bring hope & new life to years of future veterans. We’ve submitted help requests to our Congressmen & now we need your support. Please tell the politicians the time to act is now by signing & sharing.

From the veterans of the Lyons PTSD Unit, THANK YOU!

— — —


1. Treatment Course Load - reduced - only 12 hours of weekly PTSD  programming - due to lack of staff.

2. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) - suspended - EAP visits to Spring Reins of Hope LLC currently suspended - due to VA admin issues.

3. Wellness Center / Gym - closed - 03/2020, & still closed “Because of Covid” (aka BOC, a now obsolete, overused excuse). Many VA campus gyms have reopened. 

4. Weekend Passes - suspended - visits to connect with family/friends/support-network for exposure work & skills practice. These provide confidence after coping-strategy utilization & inform further treatment. Months of campus seclusion lead to discharge-related anxiety. (BOC)

5. Visits with Veteran Organizations (VOs) - suspended - off-campus & on-campus visits with VO's for support, camaraderie, exposure work, and skills practice are still officially prohibited. (BOC) 

6. Recreation Therapist - position unfilled - old rec. therapist left and not replaced; activities greatly reduced due to this. 

--- UPDATE --- Recreation Therapist Position: Filled! Thank you for your support & the role you are playing in this VA Renaissance! There’s more fronts to advance on but for now WE CAN CELEBRATE THIS VICTORY!

7. Visitors - suspended - visits with support network on unit and on-campus. (BOC)

--- UPDATE --- Modified Visits: Reinstated! Thanks to your support, another issue is being resolved! Veterans will now be allowed on-campus visitors under a modified Covid-related policy.



Transportation Vehicle Access - prevention of Peer Support Specialist to obtain necessary vehicles to transport veterans. (BOC)

Clinical Substance-Use Component - suspended - Substance Use classes absent from program - due to lack of staff. 

NA/AA Meetings - restricted - unable to attend outside meetings, & difficulties with hosting / bringing in outside speakers. (BOC)

Vietnam Wall & Arlington National Cemetery Trip - suspended - therapeutic trip to Arlington NC, the Vietnam Wall, & donation of a veteran-constructed plaque for healing, processing, & growth; a long-cherished highlight of the Lyons program. (BOC) 

Woodworking Shop - closed 2019 - Shop manager retired & not replaced. Private companies have volunteered staffing & materials. VA has not pursued reopening. 

Flag Pole - missing flag - weather-damaged, removed, pole currently stands naked. 

Basketball Court / Tennis Court - Safety issues: cracked concrete growing grass and weeds. When veterans mention this issue, VA staff responds, “oh that’s been like that forever,” as if to insinuate that veterans should just accept this VA failure. 

Indoor Basketball Court / Bowling alley / Barbershop / Garden / Fox Hole Café - closed - many of these are closed due to reasons unknown; others closed due to lack of maintenance, repairs, and/or supplies. 

— — —

*** Our goal is simply the resurrection of closed & forgotten resources- a “renaissance” of sorts. We do not seek punitive actions for staff, elimination of programs or departments, or a shut-down of the Lyons, NJ VAMC. Veterans are working hard to utilize current resources, reporting varying degrees of progress & healing. We'd like to express our immense & genuine gratitude to the current PTSD Unit Staff for all their efforts, help, time, dedication, attention, kindness & care. THANK YOU ***

— — —


1. Vets repeatedly ask for help. The administration repeatedly says: “no because COVID," “not enough staff,” “higher ups won’t approve,” “no money." With a $98 billion 2022 VHA budget, health restrictions vanishing nationwide, & the service given by these vets in combat zones around the world, it's mystifying that more can not be done.

2. Some say, “well the VA is just SO big” or “things have to go through so many bureaucratic channels.” Well, 19 years ago this March, many of us found ourselves amongst 177,000 troops deployed, in less than 2 months, to the other side of the world. By 30 April, we'd number 466,985 fully-equipped. On 19 March, we invaded Iraq & seized the capital in just 22 days. How can the VA, at 1/8th the size of the DOD, have more complications & bureaucracy? 

3. When the mission is to achieve political & corporate goals, there’s no delays, wheels are greased, approvals readily granted. When the mission is to “heal,” the machine suddenly grinds to an irresuscitatable halt. This is unacceptable. Every day veterans with PTSD die from suicide. PTSD treatment is paramount. 

     Please, we ask you, help us restore this vital program.  Please, help us heal.

     From the Veterans of the Lyons PTSD Program, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Support now
Signatures: 352Next Goal: 500
Support now