Lutz Buddy Up Program Continues to Help Area Veterans and First Responders through Pandemic

The Giving Coast

SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY SEP 15, 2020

For those on the front lines of tragedy and violence - like veterans and first responders - the emotional impact of such service can be difficult to explain to others, including loved ones or friends. This was the case for Marine Lance Corporal Janos V. Lutz, who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and took his own life in 2013 due to the detrimental effects of PTSD and over-prescribed medication. His mother, Janine Lutz, was determined that his death would not be in vain; she felt compelled to create a vehicle through which other war veterans could, perhaps, be saved. In May of last year, Goodwill Manasota launched the local chapter of the "Lutz Buddy Up" program, through which military veterans and first responders can network and form bonds, and really talk about what they are going through. The ultimate goal is that a buddy in crisis could be connected to needed resources before it becomes a life or death emergency. In July, Lutz Buddy Up reconvened in person but meetings are now at the Disabled American Veterans facility on Bee Ridge Road so that attendees can spread out a bit more. As Goodwill's Veterans Services Program Manager Todd Hughes (who is also a veteran) has said, "Getting together with like-minded brothers and sisters helps with the depression and loneliness. I'm so happy we started this group - we are changing lives!" The next meeting is Wednesday, September 16, 6pm at the DAV (7177 Bee Ridge Rd., Sarasota).

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