McClatchy's War Within Initiative raises money to help erase military medical debt

National fundraising campaign culminates as final episode of McClatchy Studios' Video Series "The War Within" publishes on Facebook Watch


Donations from McClatchy readers and viewers around the country will help pay off more than $5 million in medical bills owed by servicemembers, veterans and their families.

In partnership with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that buys bundles of debt at a steep discount and forgives it, McClatchy's War Within Initiative fundraising drive across print, digital, video and social platforms sparked the compassion of donors in the local news company's 30 markets and beyond, leading hundreds to join the effort to lift a burden for those who serve.

"We are deeply grateful to our viewers and readers for their enthusiastic and generous response to this campaign," said Craig Forman, president and CEO of McClatchy. "We're very proud to have joined with them and with the McClatchy Foundation, which kickstarted the effort, to help make a difference in the lives of struggling military families."

"Speaking as a U.S. Navy veteran and co-founder of RIP Medical Debt, I cannot express enough gratitude to McClatchy for their work in both promoting our charity, which relieves vets of unpayable medical debt, and in illuminating the needs of our warriors through their Facebook series," said Jerry Ashton, RIP Medical Debt co-founder. "Thanks to McClatchy's efforts, we are seeing to it that more than $5,000,000 in such debt will be abolished for vets. Bravo."

The fundraising portion of the War Within Initiative culminates as the final episode of the eponymous 10-part documentary series, The War Within, publishes on Facebook Watch. The series follows three Afghanistan war veterans struggling with PTSD and the other challenges of reintegration, illuminating their emotional struggles, their courage, their perseverance, and ultimately, their resilience.

  • Davon Goodwin struggles with narcolepsy, anxiety and a lack of focus after surviving an IED explosion in Afghanistan that left him with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury. He is building a house for his family on a 400-acre plot of land where he plans to operate a sustainable farm to serve one of the poorest communities in North Carolina.
  • Iranian-born Assal Ravandi, president of the Academy of United States Veterans, reveals how her mother and brother helped her recognize and overcome her PTSD while she leads her small organization in planning the Vettys, an annual awards ceremony dedicated to remarkable veterans and veterans organizations. 
  • Former Marine Scott Whisler strives to become the father he never had to his 8-year-old son, Caden. Scott, who was diagnosed with PTSD – and then had that diagnosis questioned – volunteers with Team Red White & Blue, where he leads rucks and fitness events for other veterans in Tacoma, Wash. 

The series will remain on "The War Within" Facebook Watch page indefinitely.

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