Headfirst With Headstrong: Leaving No Mind Behind

In many ways, 2020 was the year of unprecedented extremes; a global public health crisis unmatched by recent history, complete with its unspeakable human tragedy and loss of life, a presidential election like no other witnessed in the nearly 250 years of American history, a still-bitterly divided republic and public that demonstrates no identifiable means yet as to how to mend itself, and a general loss of security for the things we once knew and had.

But even in these dark days, it was also a year for perseverance, hope, presence, and maintaining an unbreakable responsibility to take care of people and their needs. And in a testament to the human spirit, we made it to the end of 2020, together, bolstered by a strong belief that no matter what, we were going to soldier on through this chaos, get to the other side, and emerge stronger than ever.

Here at Headstrong the year just completed was unlike anything the organization ever imagined possible: a year that saw the way we deliver access to mental health treatment and services changed forever; the ways by which we work together altered to a point where working remotely is our new normal; even the very means by which we generate revenue shifted under our feet as we moved past hosting our storied galas in exchange for smaller, virtual gatherings of supporters.

Most importantly, it was also a year that saw demand for mental health treatment and services surge alongside a rising pandemic, and that demand has not stopped. And while not surprising given this year, it serves to remind us all of the importance of leaving no mind behind, as we have become accustomed to saying.

And leaving no mind behind is exactly what we have done this year. Through hard work, dedication to mission, and an unrelenting sense of professionalism by the team, Headstrong exits 2020 knowing full well that we gave it our best to care for those who turn to us for treatment and support. So, as we exit 2020 and begin to move beyond the impact this pandemic has had upon our country and all its citizens, we turn our attention to the future, a very bright future, for Headstrong.

2021 begins with gratitude for the things we accomplished at the end of 2020 and time well-spent in self-reflection as an organization. What has emerged is a bold, clear vision to serve any veteran in the United States by 2025. That’s a tall order; one that will require deliberate strategy and resources capable of propelling Headstrong headfirst into its next five years of existence.

2021 is also a year of inward growth, organizational stabilization, and condition setting to achieve that vision, and those conditions will include greater diversification of revenue streams, new partnerships with governments, mastering our data through improved measurement and evaluation, improved engagement within our communities, greater transparency and stewardship of resources, introducing organizational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and realignment of clinical assets and capacity to better serve hard-to-reach and underrepresented segments of our military connected populations.

While jam-packed with a lot of priorities to tackle, the Headstrong agenda for 2021 is poised to support the organization’s move to its mid-stage life as a nonprofit organization of record addressing the mental health challenges within those who served in our nation’s armed forces, and their family members.

We do so recognizing the enormity of our times, ever mindful of the solemn responsibility to focus all our energies toward those we serve to ensure their continued health, success, and wellbeing.

Here’s to Headstrong, and its bright future. Happy New Year to all and thank you.


About the author: Jim McDonough is the Executive Director for The Headstrong Project. Jim holds over a decade of experience as a public servant leading nonprofit, educational and governmental organizations in rapid growth and turn-around environments. He is an experienced fundraiser, Change Management Specialist and Former U.S. Army Colonel with significant global command and staff experience.