September 24, 2021
Project Diehard is a non-profit organization helping veterans. The goal is to address veteran suicide.
"Project Diehard is diehard, you don't give up," founder, Brian Gibson said.
The organization hopes to bring veterans a place to heal, find comfort, prepare for civilian life, and more.
Project Diehard is raising money to build Forward Operating Base Rush. The facility will house veterans.
“We want this place to be a safe, secure, and comfortable place. It’s not a shelter.”
Brian Gibson always knew he would end up serving in the military.
“I come from a military family. I was born into it so I joined the Army at 17.”
He served as a combat medic in the Army for over 26 years. His service would ultimately impact his life beyond the battlefield.
"I’ve been to places and done things no human should have to see. I fell into my dark spot about nine years ago. I self-medicated with alcohol all the way up to the point where I had a 45 in my mouth.”
At that moment a friend of his, another veteran called to ask if he had plans. The friend took him to an event. There, he found a pastor who took the time to listen.
“I came back from that edge and quit drinking. Then I became involved with church which saved me."
However, not everyone makes it off that ledge.
"Four years ago I got a call from the wife of one of my best buds. We did three tours together. When I say, ‘brother from another mother,’ I’m not joking. She told me he was hanging in the garage. That’s when I thought more needed to be done.”
Gibson said the mental wear continues for former soldiers at home.
“Part of our mission is to let people know that war still goes on. We are losing people everyday to that war.”
Project Diehard got its 501c3 in 2018.
A reporter at a news station in Marion, IL put together a story on Gibson and Project Diehard.
That story led to a call from Haven of Love Christian Daycare. The daycare would end up donating 20 acres of land in Makanda, IL to the organization. That included a 10,000 square foot building.
It's named after Sgt. Courtney Rush of the U.S. Air Force. She lost her battle January 3, 2012.
Once completed, the facility will house 12 single veterans and an additional two veterans plus their families for up to a year.
"There's a need for this. Veterans and their families are struggling."
Gibson has already partnered with another organization to provide equine therapy on site once it opens. He also has auto mechanics, motorcycle mechanics, plumbers, painters, and contractors lined up to teach veterans skills.
“In the military we live a very structured life. The civilian life you have it, but you don’t. There’s not much need for skills of kicking in doors and throwing hand grenades. There’s not much call for driving a 40 ton tank in the civilian world. We’re giving them a skill.”
Veterans will also have access to therapy while staying at Forward Operating Base Rush.
Gibson estimates they will need between $500-800,000 before opening.
Project Diehard is holding its first fundraising event the week of July 26, 2021.
Monday through Thursday will consist of cleaning up the property.
Friday kicks off PDH Remembrance Weekend. That weekend will feature the Poker Run, church service, and concert with country singer, Chris Turner. Turner is also a veteran. Gibson said veteran-run business, Blazing Star BBQ, will provide food.
“This is to announce what Project Diehard is. This is what we do.”
Guests will also take in a screening of "SGT. Will Gardner."
Gibson said there will not be tickets, but rather donation buckets. They will also have the option to camp on the property throughout the week.
Midland Radio provided Project Diehard with radios for the event.
“We’re going to have a lot of moving parts. The army taught me communication is key. Midland is helping us keep control of the situation," Gibson said.
Project Diehard will use Midland's LXT600BX4 FRS Business Bundle for communication at the event.
Midland is proud to support veteran-run organizations.
“It just means so much. Every donation we get, we’re just blessed with.”
Gibson hopes to bring more than just a "home" to those who have served.
“We want to save human lives. I want to save my brothers and sisters’ lives and give them hope. They need to know it’s alright to not be alright. I want to give them the skills to survive out in the world.”
The goal is to act as a transition point for veterans, looking to make their own impact beyond their service to this country.