Our Origin Story – Peekachoo and His Navy Wife

Two items meeting at the same time gave birth to Once A Soldier: 

The 2016 VA Veteran Suicide Report

Working with Amanda

Amanda was the artsy type. A young graphic designer working for at an advertising agency in Jacksonville, Florida not far from where she was born. Her husband, Jake, was a newly-minted Navy pilot was stationed at nearby Mayport Naval Station. Code name “Peekacho”, Jake was the southern gentleman to her southern belle.

During Jake’s 9-month long deployment, Amanda stayed at home and made friends with other wives in the same position. Life wasn’t easy. Both were underpaid, but in time, they managed a small house to call their own. Still, “No Dough Meals” at the local USO came to the rescue now and again.

Pensecola was the next permanent change of station. Two daughters came along during all this time.

Thankfully, their story is still being written. But it was her sacrifice, along with the landmark VA Veteran suicide report, that gave birth to our cause. We imagined Amanda and her family having to carry on after Jake’s exit. We decided it wasn’t fair. And it isn’t.

In 2017, Once A Soldier began offering postvention Veteran suicide services to a national audience. Financial aid, counseling and suicide prevention help get these families over the darkest of days.  

Sadly, there are many Veteran families of suicide with identical stories out there. To read more from our families, check this out.

Once a Soldier FAQs 

We Are 100% Volunteer

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How We Gift

Families email or call us and through our process, we agree on services that will benefit them the most.

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Who We Gift

The charity endeavors to support the immediate family members. We follow the VA’s general program list of eligible survivors.

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What We Gift

Our counseling services are free, and our financial crisis aid ranges up to $1,000 per family. If we have more we can give more.

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Why We Care

We’ve seen the courage and spirit of the families left behind during deployment. Now they must carry on without their soldiers forever.

Interview on First Coast Connect

by Melissa Ross - WJCT Host

Who’s Committing
Soldier Suicide:

%

50 + Years Old

%

23-49 Years Old

%

New Recruits - 1st Year

Our Two-Phase Approach to the Mission

Phase One: As we are newly minted in late 2017, becoming financially stable while we raise awareness is our mandate.

Phase Two: With the first dollars available, we will gift the first of our veteran suicide.

Our Mission is Simple

Ease or erase the financial burden of the funeral costs after a soldier suicide.

About Dave Barbush

About Dave Barbush

Founder - CEO

The son of a Navy veteran, Dave now lives in Jacksonville, Florida – home to three Navy installations. My Dad’s giving heart beats in me and his willingness to take care of others is organic to this cause.  Combining that with the sacrifice that veteran families make has inspired Once a Soldier to make a big difference.

From the Founder:

When I decided to start Once a Soldier, my hope was to create a nonprofit the likes of which hadn’t been seen before. So we had to find a group that we felt was in need and that those needs were being neglected. We succeeded in two ways.

First, the cause is unique. There is a plethora of soldier suicide nonprofits, but after looking at the reports, we saw that as a misnomer. Soldier suicide is really veteran suicide as 13 of the 20 suicides a day are done by veterans.

Secondly, we wanted to be as digital as possible. With finances being our gift to the families to create a silver lining, we wanted to create an easy to scale way of raising funds for the families. We need no employees (at this time) and so our costs are very small.

After getting to know the families left behind, I’m satisfied that both ways are succeeding and that I will never run out of passion for the cause. Please give what you can and feel good about it.

I would like to thank you for all that you do.  I am truly thankful for your dedication to knowing the problem and trying to make others aware of the tragedy soldiers & their families endure. It has really, really been a hard road.  I wish every day that Cedrick was here and I was the one God called. So sad. 

Helen Taylor

Mother of Cedrick Taylor

This is a great resource for families that are faced with the hardships that come with veteran soldier suicide. 

Kevin Johns

Father of Jerod Johns