As Military Family Month, November, is coming to a close we continue to celebrate our families and their successes daily. Having started our Veterans Services soon after we affiliated with Easter Seals in 2011 we began to understand the need and realized that our current programming would be off a huge asset and would translate easily. We initially started with service dogs and to date we have paired 25+ service dogs with veterans. Since then we have become the lead in VSO collaborative called Texas Veterans + Family Alliance serving thousands, we are especially proud of our counseling and mental health services open to not only Veterans and service members but also to family members. These are just a few of our most recent successes and we are truly honored to be in this space serving our military after they have served us.
“F” is a female Veteran who has been in recovery for five years. She has been attending AA meetings and has a sponsor she trusts and can turn to. She has embraced the arts, especially dancing, as an escape. Her fear is having a craving, because the people around her often talk about doing drugs and drinking. She talked to her Easter Seals Greater Houston therapist about feeling exposed and vulnerable, so together they worked out plans for setting boundaries, and being mindful of her own feelings and of warning signs. They also created a Crisis Response Plan, so that she has a plan of action for when a substance use crisis arises.
“H” is a Veteran who has worked all his life as a laborer, and that physical labor has caused degenerative spine disease. Over the years as the pain worsened, he became addicted to meth. H and his Easter Seals therapist are working together to navigate what he needs to do apply for disability and to stay clean. Just recently, H discovered how much being in nature and working with nature helps him. He has taken up rock collecting and rock polishing, and his meth use has decreased.
This story is about small steps. Veteran “I” has misused alcohol for decades. A week ago, he stopped for two days. What caused the change? He took a trip to see an old Marine friend, and saw in him a different way of living. I told his Easter Seals therapist, “I work all day, drink all night, and then do it again the next day. I realize now I don’t have to live this way.”
“D” is a female Veteran who has always drank and smoked. Recently she got “the job”- the one she never felt like she’d ever get- and that one life change has increased her self-esteem tenfold. D and her Easter Seals therapist have talked about how the job has made her feel so fulfilled, that she has realized she doesn’t need to drink and smoke anymore.
“L” is a Veteran and a single dad. He has drank and smoked as long as he can remember, but after attending a retreat focused on mental health, he became motivated to find more purpose. He and his Easter Seals therapist have been working to find ways for him to reconnect with his daughter.
“R” is a Veteran who has been in recovery for 23 years, and he faithfully meets with his Easter Seals therapist every two weeks. R is knowledgeable about mental health, and he understands sobriety- most especially how fragile sobriety can be. R has family with substance use issues, and they are living with his mother and not providing her with appropriate care. R and his Easter Seals therapist have talked about how the stress weighs on him, and how he does not have to turn to substance. R has taken up painting the interior of his house. A task with a beginning and an end that he can control, and that he can see the result.
“M” is Veteran who drinks a lot. As he said to his Easter Seals therapist, “If I’m not working, I’m drinking.” M is participating in PE or Prolonged Exposure, a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. PE has helped M deal with his PTSD, and he recently reported to his therapist that he is drinking only on weekends, and no longer throughout the evening after work each weekday.
Congratulations to you all! Learn more and get involved!
Services to Veterans, Military and their family members FY 2020 to date:
357 Adult Veterans or family members are receiving mental health supports.
38 Adult Veterans or family members received I&R supports.
93 Children of Veterans are receiving mental health supports.
7 Children of Veterans received I&R supports.
201 Adult Veterans or family members are receiving individual counseling.
166 Adult Veterans or family members reported substance use concerns.
40 Children of Veterans are receiving individual counseling.
5 Children of Veterans reported substance use concerns.
Easter Seals Greater Houston is proudly serving current Service members, Veterans and their families in Harris and all surrounding counties.Our reach can extend to those throughout the state who are interested in tele-mental health services. Our mission is to assist military-connected families in building the lives they want during and after the military to meet their needs around reintegration, stability, wellness, and growth. Our goal is not to duplicate services offered in the community, but rather be an easy point of entry for finding and connecting with needed resources. Learn more here and contact us at 346.330.3859 or Veterans@eastersealshouston.org to get plugged into Service Members, Veterans and Military-Connected Family Services.