Photos by Hillary Ehlen and special to Fargo Monthly
Featured photo: Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation‘s President of the Board Tracy Oberg Dunham and Marine veteran John Dalziel
With help from the Impact Foundation, we’ve broken up the numerous Fargo-Moorhead organizations into 12 categories. With more than 100 charitable organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area alone, we know that you’ll come across an organization that tug at your heartstrings. Within the listings of local charities we’ve published, the organizations are split into subcategories that will make it easy for your charitable spirit to find its match. Here is our spotlight on the DMF Funds, featuring Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation.
Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation
“I do not want another sister to ever have to sit and go through this.” In 2015, Tracy Dunham lost her brother, Brady Oberg, to suicide as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Brady had returned to the United States after serving a year-long deployment with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division 4th Brigade in Afghanistan.
“Veterans give years of their life for our nation. Then they come home and we think they are safe, because they are on our ground, but in Brady’s case, he never left Afghanistan,” Tracy said. Tracy helped found the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation in late 2015 to honor the legacy of her brother, raise awareness for combat PTSD and create a community of veterans who get together and support each other.
“We host retreats, hunting trips, get-togethers and fitness opportunities, with the intention of creating a lot more activities. Brady was adventurous, so that is our approach to Veteran activities. We hope to form those relationships and keep brothers and sisters who served together, together. That’s our mission,” Tracy said.
Working with the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation is John Dalziel, a Marine veteran who worked for the FBI and in law enforcement. Tracy wants this foundation to be by veterans and for veterans. She understands that one can not get what it’s like unless they’ve been through it themselves. She said, “There was a whole element that we were missing, and we realized really fast that veterans talk to veterans differently than they talk to civilians or their family. With people like John, we’ve been able to join forces and get our voice out that much further and that much louder to more people.”
When John retired from the FBI, he was looking for something so that he could continue to give back, as his whole life had been dedicated to doing so. The thought of not being able to continue to give back created a void in his life. Through a mutual friend, he discovered the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation, and a “match made in heaven” was formed. He does strong public speaking, and he had been working with the CrossFit Community on PTSD awareness. Paired with the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation, he was able to help raise more awareness and money for the cause, but more importantly raised awareness of PTSD and got struggling veterans to pick up the phone. “I’ve said it over and over again: asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness,” John noted. “You have all these people that want to help and they want to thank you for what you’ve done for our country. They recognize that you’ve sacrificed your today for our tomorrow.”
John and Tracy, along with the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation, help to organize various events for veterans to get together and do what they love. Throughout the year, they can go to fitness classes together, go on hunting expeditions, participate in a motorcycle ride event and more. Thanks to donations and fundraisers like Giving Hearts Day, every single event that they put on is free to veterans.
One event that John helped put together is the Brady’s Border 2 Border Ruck March. Last year, a group of veterans marched from the United States-Canada border at Noyes, Minn., to the North Dakota-South Dakota border, south of Fairmont, totaling 270 miles. This year, with 20-pound ruck sacks in tow, they will be marching west to east, beginning at the Montana-North Dakota border near Beach, N.D., to the North Dakota-Minnesota border at the bridge located on 52nd Avenue in south Fargo, totaling about 370 miles. Events such as this not only raise funds for the cause, but also create a wider awareness for veteran PTSD and suicide recognition and prevention.
Tracy and John agreed that reaching out and encouraging solidarity between veterans is huge. “We are not that 911 call. We are not the doctors. But our hope is that we are way before any of that, that they never get to that point,” Tracy said. “They are seeking us for camaraderie, for family awareness and then hopefully they never get to the point where they need that emergency call. We are not the last resort, but hopefully we are the first thing they seek out when they get home.”
Tracy noted that sometimes people think veteran suicide must be from drugs, drinking, not being able to hold a job or not having family support, but that often isn’t the case and things aren’t always as they seem. “In Brady’s group, they came back victorious, meaning they came back with all of their brothers. But since then, we have had 12 that we have lost out of the 140-something that came home, and that’s all since they have been home on our soil.” Tracy shared that the rate of veteran suicide is currently at 22 a day. With organizations such as the Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation, we all can help raise awareness of what veterans often go through when returning to the States and attempting to assimilate back into civilian life.
Through his legacy, Brady gets to help those who are or have been in his shoes. About last year’s Border 2 Border Ruck March, John shared that on the night they began the march, Brady put on a sound and light show for them in the sky. There was no rain, but it was thundering and lightning all night. John said, “The passion that the Oberg family has is unreal, it’s unbelievable. It’s a great cause, and I wish I knew Brady, but knowing how successful his memory is, that he is continuing to do great things from the other side, that is just few and far between.”
From President of the Board and Sister of Brady, Tracy Dunham
About Brady Oberg And The Brady Oberg Legacy Foundation
Brady Oberg was a veteran who had a love and respect for the United States of America and his fellow combat veterans of all American wars. Like so many soldiers, he brought some of the battle home with him. Through his Legacy Foundation, we hope to bring veterans together for fun-filled adventures where they can connect and reconnect with each other. We also hope to raise awareness about PTSD and help family members and spouses understand the struggles their soldiers may deal with when returning home from war.
We love to hear when a donor knew Brady at some point in his life and how he affected them and because of that they want to give back.
What Could Help Your Organization?
What we need is more veterans to participate in our events; veterans can help other veterans better than anyone else. Veterans have a way with each other that can’t be matched. Also, reach out to combat veterans in your life and let them know of the events, scholarships and activities we have to offer.
Short-term, we are partnering with TNT Kid’s Fitness on a fitness program for our veterans at a low cost that includes personalized training and camaraderie. Longterm, we hope to provide more adventure retreats for combat veterans that allow them to have fun while unburdening their hearts and minds as only they can do together. We also want to build up our scholarship program so we can offer more scholarships to combat veterans that are going into the mental health field as counselors or psychologists.
More Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF) Funds
For more information on individual funds, go to impactgiveback.org.
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