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Meet Jewish American Heritage Month Local Hero Marjorie Morrison

KPBS Local Heroes Project

Portrait photo of Marjorie Morrison

Marjorie Morrison is the founder and driving force behind the PsychArmor Institute, a national organization that supports military service members in a unique fashion. The goal is to educate and train communities that surround the military — to reframe the nation's mindset around veterans, from passive appreciation to personal responsibility.

"Everything we do is free and we challenge all Americans to do something," Morrison said.

What's the free stuff? Courses. Over a hundred of them. The online classes cover military hiring programs, suicide, and "Veteran 101," among other things. The most popular course is "1-5-15: What American Veterans Want You To Know." Morrison says over ten thousand people took that course over one week in March.

PsychArmor aims to complement the 40,000 other veteran nonprofits that focus on service members — but not the people who make up the surrounding environment. PsychArmor is different in that way. Morrison and her staff are trying to fill the gap between the programs that support service members and the rest of the country who live and work with these vets, but don't know their culture.

"The worlds are so separate," Morrison said of military and civilians. Veterans transitioning to civilian life face a lot of challenges. "It's often confusing," Morrison says. "And people want to help, but they don't know how."

PsychArmor has been around for over three years. Morrison started working with the military community after a short assignment at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) as a therapist. No one taught her how to handle this jump to a military environment. And she didn't see anybody volunteer for counseling. It wasn't part of the culture on that base. So she wrote a mandatory counseling program and put every drill instructor on the base through it. That work snowballed into what she does today.

Morrison's Jewish upbringing mirrors the cultural divide she sees in the military; the groups band together in a similar fashion. "Jews are very much their own culture. And Jews stay with other Jews. And I think military veterans stay together."

In response to her nomination, Morrison said, "I'm still incredibly honored. And I know Robin Rady was nominated last year. So, to be in any situation when I'm put in the same light as her is an honor."

Video

Jewish American Heritage Month Local Hero Marjorie Morrison

See past Jewish American Heritage Month honorees here.

Meet fellow 2016 honorees Rose and Max Schindler.

Nominate your hero by filling out this form.
Questions or comments on this story can be directed to Nate John at njohn@kpbs.org.

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