When Ward 8 ran out of space and staff that could participate, The director suggested I contact the Vets Service Center in Springfield. A Service Center is a part of the VA, BUT, somewhat separate from the usual VA bureaucracy. They were originally started by Viet Nam vets and are staffed almost entirely by former combat vets. This is a place where vets trust, are comfortable going and are already involved in a varied therapeutic program. The issue of comfort zones is critical in enabling one to deal with PTSD. And, to recall Mary Malmros’ comments, it can help you renew your “dealotrons”. Unfortunately, the Vets Center also became over extended and ran out of room and support staff.
I tried holding a class at the American Legion, did a massive promotion campaign, and no one showed up. Shows how difficult it is to get the vets who most need the program can be the hardest to pull out of the woods.
We kept pecking away, talking with anyone who would put up with us for two minutes, writing grant proposals, and getting turned down, doing presentations at social worker and psych conferences, refining and writing down a better class structure, working with folks in other parts of the country [more on this later].
Then we lucked out. We did a display at a local Vet’s Expo sponsored by a town Vets Office. It was pretty much rained out and only a couple of vets showed up [see above re comfort zones], but almost every agency, organization, group, non-profit and government had a people there, some groups I had never heard of. My partner in this insanity is a networking maestro and we made some solid connections. Most importantly with the Medical Director of the VA Hospital and the new Commandant of the local Soldiers Home. Both were very interested in having classes at their facilities and told us to contact them.
Of course, I did so the next week and as a result we are restarting the class in the PTSD ward at the hospital and also a class for the hospital population at large and we are working with staff at the Soldiers Home to set up a class there.
If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that it ain’t easy, and it ain’t going to be fast, but that there are people and places that can see the value of what we are trying to do. But damn, sometimes I just wanted it all to go away, to chuck it and take up egg dying. And sometimes I just wanted to cry