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Our Stories 

RGH has had the privilege of working with heroes and their families who have showed courage and resilience in facing mental health challenges.  We have worked together to build communities that de stigmatize mental health and create spaces of acceptance, compassion and hope.  Veterans return to communities NOT programs and RGH is proud to be working with communities to build spaces that honor and support our heroes.  These are some of their stories.


Jason Mc Queeney – 103rd Airlift Wing, National Guard

My name is Jason McQueeney, I am 38 years old, and I have been a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard for almost 19 years. I am currently an AGR with the 103rd Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) where I have been working for the las 10 years. Some of my personal interests are competing in Strongman Competitions, obviously going to the gym as much as I can.


Reading, cooking, trying new foods and drinking a lot of coffee. I am currently in the beginning stages of pursuing a degree in nutrition but as I educate myself, I realize that my interests are far more reaching than just nutrition. I enjoy psychology, sociology and I have a deep interest in food chemistry. A new aspect to my life that I recently discovered was how gratifying volunteering is and can be. I enjoy incorporating my interests into my volunteering for instance mentoring and leadership as well as my love for animals and animal rescues.

Quantifying the impact that RGH has had on my life is difficult because it has opened my mind and my behavior and taken it to places, I didn’t know I was capable of. It has shown me more of who I am and who I want to be as a human which I wasn’t previously aware of.

Meeting Justine and Jeff as well as the rest of the RGH family is an interesting story of chance that started six months before it actually happened. Without getting into a lot of detail I wouldn’t be volunteering with RGH if it wasn’t for a good friend of mine and her interest in RGH.


So, I credit her with helping me open my mind and starting all of this and the amazing relationship, we have with Justine and RGH. RGH, for me, plays a couple different roles in my life. First and foremost, i am given the opportunity to help people and for me that feeds my soul. I enjoy what RGH offers to the community and the military because nothing like this was ever offered to me in my life. The lessons that RGH brings to young people will resonate forever at every level of their lives.


Nikola Dokmanovic – Psychology Major CCSU

It’s taught me so much about the importance of resilience in life. Working with the children in school has been such a rewarding experience as we’ve all watched their development in thinking about the topic and beginning to relate their understanding to their life experiences.

It’s taught me that there’s a lot more to masculinity than generally is spoken about. The work with the 103rd Air National Guard has introduced me to some incredibly and truly strong people. RGH has also given me an opportunity to gain experience and certifications in several areas such as suicide prevention, and Mental health first aid training.

Without Movember funding RGH would not have been able to do the work it has. Every time I work in the schools, I see the importance of the work we do. Parents in the community come up and thank me for the impact in their sons lives, or kids will recognize me and come up and engage in frank and honest conversations about the topics we teach. To change one child’s life for the better is to begin to heal the world –
and Movember is helping RGH to do that every day.


Jim Hayden – First Selectman – East Granby, CT

I am First Selectman of the Town of East Granby, and I was approached by Farmington Valley Heath District (FVHD) Director Jennifer Kertanis and FVHD Community Health Coordinator Justine Ginsberg three years ago about a potential initiative which would focus on mental health support for veterans and their families.

Resilience Grows here has had an immediate impact on East Granby veterans, their families, youth in our school system and in the towns of the Farmington Valley. RGH is an example of ordinary people working together to produce extraordinary results for veterans, their families, and our community.

The programs and events that have been held and supported by RGH have put the spotlight on mental health resilience and steps that we as a community can support and nurture.


Ray Philippon– Gold Star Father and Army Veteran

My name is Ray, I am a member of the Valhalla Connecticut Motorcycle Club, I am Chaplain of the club, and my road name is Moses. I am a US Army Veteran. I was introduced to Resilience Grows Here and Justine Ginsberg by Leesa.philippon. Valhalla embers have taken both the QPR and Peer Training courses with Justine. We have also participated in various Veteran events held by RGH.

Personally, I am a Gold Star Dad, and I am very involved with supporting Veteran’s and most of our club members are Veterans. The QPR and Peer Training I have received is invaluable in helping me to recognize Veteran’s struggling with various issues and knowing to whom they should turn to for support and guidance, that being RGH.

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Ray Philippon– Gold Star Father and Army Veteran

RGH has meant that I have people I can talk to, role models. I think working with the 103rd members have been important, because if they were bullied in school, or have days they feel sad and can talk to us about it, then it is OK for us to talk about it too. I think it is important to know that being a man isn’t about being tough and not feeling. The strongest men, even those in uniform, can talk about having a bad day – it doesn’t make them any less strong.

Because of RGH my classmates talked more nicely to each other. I really noticed a difference in the way people would treat each other after our classes. We really look forward to the lessons with RGH as we learn skills we can use. I am better at talking about how I feel because of RGH.

We thank our Veterans for their service and for the support they continue to give to men’s health and staying connected to each other.

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