Shortly after Lt. Colonel David Berube of Oak Bluffs, said farewell to a 21-year career as a chaplain in the Massachusetts Air National Guard in September 2019, he and his wife Ellen attended a Fall Couples Retreat in Yarmouth, organized by Heroes In Transition (HIT).
By that point, David had been struggling with PTSD for a little less than a year. He had been seeking ways for him and Ellen to live with “this new reality,” he said. “With post-traumatic stress disorder, things can get better, but they don’t go back to what they were before completely. You regain function. You regain your life, but it’s just different.”
Over the past three years, HIT has been there to support Ellen and David during this difficult journey. And next month at HIT’s 13th Annual Fall Gala at The Coonamessett on Gifford Street in Falmouth, the couple will share their story and how the Mashpee-based nonprofit has played a critical role in helping them begin to heal from PTSD. The pair will serve as the keynote speakers for the event which serves as a major fundraiser for HIT, providing the organization with the resources to carry out programs which provide assistance to service members, veterans, and military families in the region.
Individuals or groups interested in attending the Fall Gala, which is being held on Saturday, November 12, 6-10 pm, can purchase tickets or make a donation by clicking the button below.
“My willingness to speak at the Gala is really on behalf of all HIT has done for us personally with their programming,” said Ellen, a former elementary teacher at the Oak Bluffs School who retired last year. “I have such an appreciation for this organization.”
It was a similar sentiment expressed by David who hoped that others suffering from PTSD may seek the help they need. “There are a whole lot of folks who struggle on their own more than they need to,” he said. “It is always my hope that one veteran or one military couple in the room will get more help so their lives can be a little better because we are willing to share our story. Also, if we can help HIT get more resources and we can expand their support wider, I’m always up for that.”
Since HIT’s Fall Couples Retreat in 2019, Ellen and David have deepened their connection with the nonprofit by participating in several of its programs. David has attended HIT’s Veterans Equine Warrior Program which connects service members and veterans to the healing power of horses at Alliance Equestrian Center in Sandwich. Ellen has taken part in outings for spouses, including activities like walking Grace Trail in Plymouth. The Berubes have also attended two more Couples Retreats in 2021 and this past spring.
And in April 2021, David received a service dog, Vegas, from NEADS that was sponsored by HIT. “He is kind of an island of calm in the middle of what’s going on in my life,” said David of Vegas, acknowledging, “I went through a period where I had a really hard time being out in public and being in lines in the post office and being in crowds.”
David, who also served as a police officer with the Oak Bluffs Police Department and a pastor at the Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard in Edgartown, currently assists HIT by helping to manage its Veterans Equine Warrior Program. “Heroes has provided me opportunities to lead again, but at a less stressful level,” David said. “It has really been a part of my healing journey.”
HIT Executive Director Nicole Spencer said the Berubes serve as a reminder of why the organization’s work is so important. “Often, the impact of military service extends to the spouses and to the family. David’s struggles with PTSD have not only affected his life, but Ellen’s as well,” she said. “This is why we are committed to supporting the entire family unit through our programs. With David and Ellen, it’s allowed them to connect with other military couples who are facing similar challenges. It lets them know they are not alone.”
Current sponsors for the Fall Gala are Asset Management Resources LLC, the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office, Cape Cod Five, Cape Cod Retractable, Inc., Devadigm, The Goosey Fund, the Law Offices of Boyd & Boyd P.C., Dellbrook|JKS, Eastern Bank, Rockland Trust, Cape Associates, the Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod, the Law Office of Jane E. Sullivan P.C., Chapman Funerals & Cremations, The Valle Group, and Roche Bros.
Businesses interested in sponsoring this year’s Fall Gala should email email@example.com.