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By Meagan Friberg, Originally published in PASO Magazine, April 2017
 
Mighty Oaks helps veterans move from darkness into the light
Atascadero resident serves as West Coast Regional Site Facilitator
Atascadero resident Jamie Warner, a Marine Corps veteran and credentialed English teacher, is the West Coast Regional Site Facilitator for Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs, a ministry committed to helping veterans and active duty military personnel face the struggles of military life, combat deployments, and symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTS) head-on.  He has been witness to many transformations during the five-day programs held at SkyRose Ranch in San Miguel.
 
“When these guys come to us, they may be angry, bitter, hurting, they don’t want to talk about their feelings and what they’ve been through; they are dealing with things that they have buried for years,” Warner said. “They’ve been taking all of these traumatic things, just stuffing them in their pack, and carrying it around. Our goal is to help them take that pack off, start pulling the dark stuff out, and bring it out into the light where it doesn’t have a hold over them anymore. The miracle is, their final morning here is the loudest communal time and everyone is talking, laughing, joking. You would think these guys were all college buddies or grew up together; it’s an amazing thing to see.”
 
An answer to prayer
Warner first learned about Mighty Oaks when his daughter’s friend, a combat veteran, shared his challenges and struggles with the family. Warner and his wife, Kathy, prayed about starting a ministry to help veterans of all ages. When their pastor told them about Mighty Oaks, it was an answer to prayer. They checked out more information on the www.mightyoaksprograms.org website and knew they had to find a way to become involved. “We realized we didn’t need to start a new ministry,” Warner said, “because Mighty Oaks had already started it!”
A chance meeting that can only be described as a sign from above happened next when Warner unexpectedly saw MOWP Founder Chad Robichaux and his wife, Kathy, at a local restaurant. He had seen their photo and read their story on the website, and knew he had to start up a conversation. “When I saw them, I just looked up and said, ‘Really, God?’ – that was my sign,” Warner said. “I introduced myself and told Chad that I felt God was telling me to talk with him. I told him if there was anything I could do to help with Mighty Oaks to let me know.”
From volunteer to staff member
After volunteering in various capacities for a little over a year, including helping with edits on a few MOWP books, Warner attended a MOWP Men’s Legacy program in June 2015. In July, he and Kathy taught the couples’ Marriage Advance program alongside the Robichauxs. After shadowing Branden Kanuth, who had been in the role for some time, Warner became a MOWP staff member and took over the Site Facilitator role in January 2017; he partners with Program Facilitator Bill Coates.
Typically, with each class, there are two or three graduates making the commitment to come back for MOWP Leadership Training. Phase One is an evaluation and observation time of sorts, a chance to see the other side of the program. Phase Two is even more intentional, with the trainees teaching a class, leading a break-out session, and receiving a written evaluation. If all works out, they will return as a Team Leader and part of the instruction staff.  In next month’s PASO Magazine, graduates of the MOWP Men’s Legacy Program, Daniel Salazar and Bryan Zuppinger, will share their stories and why they are now committed to participate in Leadership Training.

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