By: Keenisha Protho, LMSW
What greater honor than to serve your country? Veterans have made the decision to put others before themselves to fight for our liberty as Americans and this decision does not come without a cost. PTSD, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, depression, interpersonal violence, suicide, and grief are issues that plague some Veterans. Not only are some Veterans affected, but their families share the brunt as well. Children of military families are more likely to report a worse mental health status than their peers who are not connected to the military.
While adjusting to civilian life can be tough, MHA of Greater Houston would like to be part of their social support system and serve as a protective factor to negate these negative outcomes. Considering these efforts, we would like to highlight our Veterans Behavioral Health team and the services they provide to the Veteran community for Veterans Day. Some of the services MHA of Greater Houston provides are detailed below.
Veteran Peer Network
The Veterans Peer Network provides veterans with a mentor that also has lived military experience. The mentors are there to listen, be a friend and guide veterans through difficult times. Our mentors are not just there to help them navigate life, but are also “battle buddies” to ensure everyone comes out the other side better than they went in. Veterans looking for a peer mentor can contact Veteran Peer Service Coordinator, Edward Howard at email@example.com. Veterans can also be assigned a peer mentor through Veterans Treatment Court.
Veterans Treatment Court
If a veteran commits a crime, they may be eligible for the Veterans Treatment Court. Through the treatment court, they are paired with a mentor who assists with navigating through the treatment court program to ensure their success. Alumni groups are also facilitated for participants in the treatment court. Talking points are discussed during groups to give veterans a safe space to discuss topics they may be currently experiencing in a non-judgmental environment. Community resources are also provided at no cost. Our mission is to let our veterans know they are not alone, but they have support to walk alongside them during difficult transitions in life
Veteran Support Training
We provide support training to families of veterans and/or professionals or community members that work with veterans. We provide the following trainings: military cultural competency training, mental health first aid for military members and their families, AS+K Suicide training, and calm training. These trainings may help with gaining awareness of the challenges related to military culture and its impact on veterans, skills needed to reach out to a veteran if they are suffering from a mental illness, recognize the signs and symptoms of suicide risk, as well as reducing access to lethal means once a veteran is identified as being at risk for dying by suicide.
A word from one of our mentors
One of our very own peer mentors, Patrick Purnell, had this to say about becoming a peer mentor: “My love for helping others has inspired me to become a mentor. There was a time in my life when I was not equipped to mentor anyone. I was broken, lost, and had moments of what felt like pure insanity! However, as I embarked on my life journey and had inspiration from others, I started to believe that I had the ability to overcome these challenges. After multiple suicide attempts, heart failure on three separate occasions, becoming an amputee, and surviving cancer, I knew I was a survivor! I knew I had to be brave enough to share my testimony to help others.”
Thank you so much Patrick! If you know a Veteran that maybe in need of the services we offer, please contact us. We would love to support them through their unique journey of life. If you would like to get in touch with our Veterans team, please reach out to Mary Kathryn Metyko at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit an interest form here: https://mhahouston.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2i3ruqLukkCC9hA