Videos of Past Events

2022 Veterans Mental Health Summit

Keynote Presentation: Kasey King, LMFT

So, in this panel, we heard a little bit about finding that direction, you know, kind of, what it is that next phase. And so really that's what our keynote speaker is going to speak on, is what's, how to reorient finding that purpose and that sense of mission, that new mission in here. So let's say we're going to hear from Ms. Kasey King. Kasey is a US Navy veteran. She's also a licensed marriage and family therapists and relationship specialist. She's the owner of Lavender Healing Center, private therapy practice that that serves married couples, veterans, and individuals with generational trauma. Kasey's passionate about empowering others to take control of their lives and build healthy marriages. Notably, Kasey is a Navy veteran, spouse of a Navy Seabee who just retired after 23 years of service. So Kasey, join us on stage and the floor is yours. Hey, y'all.

I'm going to say y'all quite a bit. I'm not from here though, I'm from Baton Rouge, but I'm going to say y'all, So yeah, I'm one of those Who Dat's So thank y'all so much for having me. I really am humbled to be here. I've been to quite a few colleges. Graduated from quite a few colleges, and none of them highlight military and veterans. They will say that they are military friendly, but they don't offer services or have spaces for us. So when I got connected with you Mike, thank you so much. I would just really honored to do this. And actually as we're going into the next season of our life, this is this a full circle moment. My husband literally just retired July 31st, after 23 years. And I told him, I said, hey, sit down, do nothing because he was ready to get out and get back to work. And but he's been working since he's been 15 years old, straight. And literally before that, he's from the country. He used to pick peas before he went to school. So he's always worked and I said I want you to sit down and do nothing. So he's been sitting down.

He hasn't shaved. I didn't I didn't say go that far. So we have a whole beard, we have hair up here and all this stuff and he's just at home kicking it our three-year-old. The drop in the middle one off to school and I'm like, you know, it'll it'll come to you, because he's in that phase too. Well, what is, I don't know what to do. I don't know what my purpose is.

I said hey, It'll it'll come to you. But for right now, just relax. A lot of times we struggle with it and still. And that's when those moments come to us. And we just sit still and allow ourselves to be. So before we get into just talk a little bit about me, I wanted to notice a little bit about you regards to, in regards to your purpose. So livestream, because one of these over here. Hello.

I want everybody here just to kind of stand up really quickly. And I have a few questions to ask you surrounding purpose.

And live stream I have some numbers for you to go along,. to go along with this, watch party, sorry.

If you feel that right now, you know, and are living in your dream. I want you to have a seat.

If I know what my purpose is and I'm living in my purpose every single day. Watch party. I want you to put a 1 in the chat or write a one down. Number two, for the for the watch party and for those here. If I know what my purpose is, but I'm not sure how to get there. I'm not quite living in that. I want you to have a seat. Well, yeah, I don't need me then.

And for those, I have no idea. I don't know what my purpose is. I don't know why I'm here. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know my existence. daily. Would you say for those of you that are standing, hey, I kind of resonate with that a little bit.

Okay? Alright. We can go past that now.

And three. So about twenty-five percent of people and we talked about me a little bit. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapists, i'm a veteran and a spouse. I have upcoming book coming out Life of a Military Spouse because I've definitely lived in that and trying to go through the seasons and every few years trying to figure out what your purpose is, oh, time ago. Okay. But I'll just kind of getting here, getting these degrees, don't matter. Time to go.

What about here? yeah, don't matter. So that is something just a passion project for me to spouses to not give up. That you have a purpose too, outside of the spouse and outside of a mom and your dreams you're still able to fulfill those. I served a little bit of, a little bit over eight years. In the Navy. Hello, Navy. I know a few of us in here. And my husband, 23 years. My husband is the baby of 12 and about seven of them served. One is still in she's going on 22 years. And the one above him there, 23, the other ones 22. Many of them made the right choice. I think five of them went Navy. You all are going to kick me out, huh? So I will say combined with his siblings and my side of the family, we have over a 100 years of dedication to the military. And I'm also the co-chair for American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy to have a division called Working with Military Families and Personnel, which I think was great because even when I was going through that program, I didn't have the connection to services, even getting out as a spouse and moving. I'm still trying to figure out, okay, where are my people at? So that is something that's very passionate to me as well. In my practice, I work with couples daily and many of them, one or both, they are spouses. And it's always that suffering from depression or what is life like now, it can be a year later, five years later, I really haven't lived in my purpose because I don t know what that is. And how is that affecting my spouse? How is that affecting my kids? How is that affecting my relationship with myself? So that's what we're going to talk a little bit about today. I'm, I'm a little nerdy, so I like to go just a little bit with stats first. Then go to our next slide, the truth and numbers. This is really why I asked this question which lasted day. I probably don't need me. Only twenty-five percent of Americans know what their purpose is. Only 25%. If you go over to this table right here, maybe one person on average. I know what my purpose is, I know why I'm here. More than 60% of people have no plan for their life. And so this is everyday people. We're not even talking about military coming out. You have no plan. And when you said over here, hey I thought I was gonna get a parade or hello, or we have all these things and free food for life and you don't have that and you get out. It's like okay, so I don't know what's next. No one helped me on the way out to figure out what's next. And 21% of Americans think daily about how they can find their purpose in their life. Whereas 23% don't even give it a thought. So think about that when you wake up every day in your mind as you're not even thinking about why am I here? What is my purpose? How cannot fulfill myself? What are you thinking about? Maybe I don't want to be here. Maybe I don't have a purpose. They often say that 80% of our thoughts daily or negative. If you wake up daily and you don t think about where you're going or how to get there. Oftentimes you're thinking about how you can escape, you know, and that's very sad. Often that goes into this month that we're in with the highest suicide rate higher because you get out and you go into that hole and you don't know why you're here, you've figured out, hey, I've done my time, my seven years, my eight years, I've served, there is no next for me. And so we'd go into that place of despair. We go into that place of hopelessness. And so there's nowhere else to go. And they feel that, hey, maybe I shouldn't be here, maybe I've just done all I could do. So how does this translate over the military? Talk about some of the reasons why we join, our time and service and our age, I think is very important. Next slide, please.

The average age that you go in is 18 years old. Think about that.

How are you at 18? I don't know. I don't know. I remember 18, I had the army guy come knocking at my door and I was in the bed, really sick, and my grandma told me you better come out here and talk I don't want to go in no Army.

You know, so but most people go in at 18 years old. So you're thinking about going in, I don't have a purpose, I don't have a passion. Maybe just to get out of the house or so I can have a meal every day. And 83% don't complete 20 years of service. Like I said, my husband did 23. So he has a little bit of flexibility. I have retirement, I have all these other things. I had these benefits and so forth. Some people get out like me at 8.5 years. I'm like, okay, well, I don't have that.

That money stops. Those benefits stop. So what do I do now? So it goes at 23%. I don't have time to think and my purpose, I just try to, I'm trying to find something to eat. And so the average stays in for six years. So you think at 18 plus six, I'm not good at math, that's 24. And so you get out at 24. Where are you at 24.

A lot of people at 24, are like, I still don't know my purpose at 24. I'm still trying to find food at 24. You know, so it's definitely hard. And next slide, please. So these are often the reasons why we join. And that's in order.

That order of rank. The most is to travel, 23% say I joined to travel. 23% say I join to travel.

20% for the benefits. So if you go in and you do six years to get out, there's more benefits. You have your GI Bill. But after that, you have no benefits. There's nothing else coming in for you. And about 17% was called to serve. 17% I go in because I noticed this is what I want to do. I know what it is my passion. Only 17%.

Jobs and stability. Hey, that man just knocking on doors, better get off that bed, because I don't have anything for you. I don't have money for college. It's all you've got to get up. That was me. I want to go to school. And what choice do I have? Can't you stay here? So I'm go on over there to the military. And about 11% leaving a negative environment. Was there anybody in here or in our watch parties said, Hey, I got to get the heck out of his house. I got to get the heck out of his neighborhood. My friends not really going anywhere, but I stay with the same crowd. My parents are dysfunctional or whatever the case may be. I don't have anywhere to go. I want to go to the military. And is that when you look at the top five reasons people to join, I need some money, I need food. Of course, I will love to travel and see the world. I'm just trying to keep my head above water. So oftentimes no matter your age even going then you still feel, hey, I just don't know what to do. I don't know what's next for me.

Next slide, please. So I want to tell you about purpose, because we kinda get purpose and passion a little bit confused. Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created. I had someone tell me yesterday I got a new client in my office and she was just sitting on the floor. On the floor and she said, All I do is I fly, I keep flying. I keep flying.

And I feel I have no purpose. So when I go home, I leave and see when I can fly again. But I feel I had no purpose. I don't know why I'm here. At some times I think I shouldn't be here. So if I sit in my place long enough, I get down this hole, and I feel that I'm worthless. And sometimes it's surviving is not an answer for me. So I just keep flying, keep flying, keep flying. And I had to tell her, Hey, we all here for a reason. We all have a purpose. There's someone here that has something that you need. There is someone here, even if there's one person that needs what you have to offer and you can touch their life in such a way. I used to work with, prior to coming here I was in Mississippi stationed and everything for about ten years. Before coming here, I worked at Children's Advocacy Center. I worked with a lot of children who were physically sexually abused ages 2 to 17. I was like God, I don't want to do this. I have kids. I don't want to go work with my kids and work with these kids and hear these stories and go home and try to be a great mom to my kids. And I'm like, This is not this is not my purpose is not my passion. I don't want to do this. And about a year ago, this girl calls me about 17 years old. And she said, Ms. Kasey, I have some news for you. Hey, who is this.

Oh, it's me, and how is your baby? My baby three years old. Who are you that knows my baby. And she told me who she was and I was like, Oh, hey, what's going on? She said my case filing with the court and he got convicted and she gave me all this the numbers around that like, well, how are you doing? And she's like, my life is great. I'm going off to college. I'm living with my sister and it just sent a wave of chills through my body. And I've worked with so many kids through that and some of their parents as well. And oftentimes you think, why am I here? Why am I doing this? And years later, that call, that was that why.

Because there was that one person I'm sure are probably help some others. But it was that one person that called me after all these years, when I left there, I was pregnant when she called my baby was three. I hadn't been from there to Virginia in here and all these things. But she found me and called me to say thank you. And I want to update you on my life. So oftentimes we think that we have no purpose. We don't know why we are created, but there's someone here that were created for. Next slide.

Next slide. This why I have slides, sometimes don't matter, I would just veer off. They call me a storyteller. So why, why is it important to find your purpose after leaving the military? Because your purpose is tied to who you are. It's tied to what you do and why you do it. If I have no idea who I am, I then I start to question, well, why am I here? Maybe I'm not needed. Maybe nobody loves me. We definitely take our self, and I'm pretty sure at some point everyone here may have done that. We will go down that rabbit hole. What am I doing?

What is my purpose? Why do I keep waking up?

For what?

what? I had someone is telling me the other day? These are true stories y'all, I had someone tell me the other day I feel like I'm living in the sims game. I think Sims, I was like thinking in my head like geeze, how many years ago was that?, I feel like I'm living in the Sims game. And I was like, Wow, that has to be hard. As she said, my dreams are great. I can control my dreams, just having lucid dreams. My dreams are great. I can control those. My reality feels like I'm in a game, and I just wanted to go back to sleep. So we don't know what your purpose is. I don't know why I'm here. I have no understanding of who I am. What am I called to do? If you don't know who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Why you do it is important.

The why is your purpose. Why is your purpose.

But it also goes back to the what and also goes back to the who and who you are. So it's always important to understand first who am I? Because when you understand who you are, where you've been, what your journey is, those things that bring you clarity on who you can impact, who need you. You know, where your life is going. Though, I always start with why why is there no purpose. That's why.

It's tied to your daily existence. it's tied to your why you get up, you know. what makes you smile. You know, what drives you. What mark do you wanna leave? If I leave here tomorrow, that little girl called me and told me, thank you. I'm okay.

I knew I served the purpose. My 12-year-old daughter called me last week and said, Hey, can you give me some psychology books, like Girl, you don't go practice that guitar. Why you need psychology book? I just want to know what people are thinking. I got homework, why do you care? Why do you care if people are thinking? But as you know that impact, she, she sees what I do, and want to know why I'm doing it. And so sometimes it can be your kids.

It can be She told me, Hey, come talk to my kids at school. I walk home every day. People think I'm crazy because I'm an adult. She was she's in 12th grade. We still walk. She wants to hold my hand. And lot of kids come right up to me and hug me. And she said, We need you at my school. So just think about the people. Think about those you're around. What do they think about you? What do they need about you? How do you make them feel? Sometimes we think about our passion, we will, we will try to go down so deep and try to think too hard and try to sit with it, tell our head hurts and you realized it's really right there. It's right there, right in front of you. Sometimes you feel like you've been missing it, like all along. I'm gonna tell you a little bit how I got to how I got to my passion. I um, a lot of things I always say I never wanted to do.

I never had planned on going to military. I never wanted to live in Virginia. No one in the military wants to live in Virginia.

Yes. End up living in Virginia. I didn't want to work with a child sexual trauma. I didn't want to go drive in people's homes for two years, sitting on their couches and provide therapy in these neighborhoods. I don't know these people.

I've done all of those things. I remember about 11, 12 years ago. I went to University of Southern Mississippi. And I'll walked thinking I wanted to be social work. I said, I know I was going to want to help people. I'm not sure in what capacity. So I walked into welcome to the campus and I met this lady, her name is Dr. Jeanfreau, Michelle Jeanfreau. I said, hey, I'm coming to sign up for social work program. And she said, Oh, well, no one's here for the program. We'll see you later. I'm an introvert. I don't want to talk, see you later. And she said, Well, hey, let me tell you a little bit about this, and what do you wanna do? Um, I just want I want to help people. And she said, well, we have a program and you can still help people. You can impact families, help build marriages. I'm like, I wanna do that. Like I wasn't going there for that but it happened to be something that I found me. And I think I want to do that, but I'm not going to grad school. If I keep telling them, what I'm not going to do they say someone's going to the military, I'm not going to do that.

And end up going to grad school. And that just how it found me. I absolutely love it. I love it, love it, love it. Because my goal every day is to help people have a life, and a stable family. Some would say I came from a stable family. Someone say I will not want her life. But my goal, I want my daughter to see what love looks like, you know, what not living in dysfunction looks like. That is my purpose.

For everyone that comes and sits across me when they don't have kids and do a whole lot of premarital counseling. I talk a lot about kids and they're probably thinking Why are they talking about kids? And we're just trying to get married. Because if you don't work on your dysfunctions, it's going to project down to your children. And I see these people's children who are now 30 and 40 years old, and they struggling in their marriage than they have high anxiety and they gets their anxiety from their mom. Sorry, ladies, we get bad about dishes and all these things. We don't know our kids are watching us. And, so when I get these people that come and sit and they're just, Oh, we'd been together for three years. You want to get married? I go right in. These are the habits that we wanted to change that we don't want to bring from mom and grandma and great grandmother and grandfather because you're going to have children. And so that is, that is my little piece of purpose. I want to just create as many healthy homes as I can. So when you create healthy homes, you learn about finances, you learned about wealth and you learned about all these things. And if you decide to go into military because you go in because you want to serve and not because the only escape that you have. I think that everyone in here, even if you don't know what it is, I don't know how to get there. I promise you you're probably closer than what you already think. Next slide.

I don't even know what it is. So how do you find your purpose and know some of you said, Hey, I know I'm everything is okay, that's fine. Might still going to do the exercise. And I want you to close your eyes.

Close your eyes. And even for those who are on our watch party, I can't see you, but I want you to close your eyes as well. And I want you to think, whatever comes to you, I want you to stick with that. What brings you joy? The first thing that comes into your head, don't overthink it. What brings you joy? What makes you smile? What motivates you? If you stop thinking about what other people say, what they would say, what they tell you you should do. If I didn't think I would be embarrassed that other people knew this. If you live for yourself just in this moment. Even in this moment when your eyes are closed and you wake up and say, hey, I got to come back to reality.

What would you be doing? What would you be doing with that? Connect with the light that you have now. Does it align with the path that you're on? alright, opening your eyes.

You didn't go to sleep hugh. Okay. I've been told I can have a calming voice. So, did anyone kind of maybe have an idea of I thought of something different. I thought of something even for the moment that makes me smile, that brings me joy. I don't care if it's coffee. Because what is it? I'm a little therapy on you. What is it about that coffee that brings you joy? What about their coffee? That makes you smile? What about that coffee that makes you feel good and, you know, and gets you in a groove, Who does it remind you of? I tell you my coffee reminds me of my grandma. Because down south we don't, you know, from Baton Rouge, but I will say you wanted to lemonade or tea. You want a cup of coffee. And we sit on the porch. And you want a cup of coffee. And it's rude to say no. Even when I stopped, I exclude dairy from my life. My grandma said you want a cup of coffee and I'll still hold it in my hand, after a while put in my own cream But so again, we'll sit on the porch, do this, drink coffee, and talk about life. How are you doing? How's everybody? Nothing else matters in that moment it was family and community. And that's what this is going back to coffee. So I say think about is happiness.

So I say think about is happiness. That one little thing. That's why I say it's probably right there in front of you. I don't know if my purpose is think about Joe. I think about closed my eyes, happy coffee, sleep. What about sleep?

I don't get enough of it. Why not? So I can keep going down this hole You tell me, Hey, this is what my thought is. I'm asking you why. Why did you think that? Where did that come from? What does that remind you of? Does that fill you up? What about it fills you up and you come in somewhere close to that purpose. And it's right there. And the reason why I said, close your eyes and don't look up here. I look up here because sometimes you have to be by yourself and be in the moment because we often will say what we think people want us to say. We will often say, the safe thing. You know, what I think is right? We want to say the right answer versus something that really didnt bring me joy and makes me smile. I told my husband, I say, when we go to the improv and it's going to sign you up. And He's like, why woudl you do that. If you didn't have me, if you didn't have the kids, you are really just go on like a little comedy tour. Because we, because we let, we'll allow people and things to prevent us from living a life that we desire. And you can still live that life that you desire with school and with family, and with friends and your kids. I say, Hey, don't worry about me because I'll be right there. Laughing at you. I want you to do what fills you and with what fills you up and brings you joy. Because I think every single day, if I leave here, am I full?

I leave here, am I satisfied? Am I happy?

And I think about that every single day. When I wake up every morning, I just say thank you. I'm here and I can do it again. If you could do something over and over again. Next slide, please. You can something over and over again and not feel exhausted. What would it be?

What would it be? If I'm asking all these questions that are just coming up? Because for those of you, I think it was two or three who said that I don't know. I don't know how to get there or our watch party out there, I don t know. Right.

Right. Somebody's things down, remember somebody's questions and go back and spend time with them and ask them to yourself. What keeps people from living in their purpose? Does anybody know? Yeah, yourself.

So another one is sphere. Once again, close your eyes, fear. Because if I say this and I they'll say this most obscene thing, what are you going to look at me and say, who's going to judge me? How are they going to feel about me, are they just going to talk to me after this, they'll shake my hand after this, you know, I can tell you I, as a marriage and sex therapists, I see so many different types of people in my practice. When I initially wanted to add the sex component, it was to really just help couples in their intimacy. Because I feel for me as a marriage therapist, you have to really have that understanding because sometimes things come up. And when I tell you, Y'all, I got all different kinds of folks came out the woodwork. I was like, Okay, how can I help you? and they're always like, wow, your not going to judge me? I said no, that that will take a deeper level of care. Some of them I get my scarcasim a deeper level of care than I have. I care about you and your healing, but it takes me a long time to sit there to care enough. and judge you, and I don't have that time, I don't have that desire. So a lot of times fear and what we think other people will say, how they will feel. What our moms will say, what our spouse will say. We will let that keep us from living. So daily we'll just stick with just existing. The question, I seen a quote about fear. And it says feel the fear and do it anyway. I know some of you heard the quote is that doing scared? Do it scared, do it afraid. You don't know what that outcome is gonna be? I tell clients when they come into my office it's a light at the end of the tunnel. i know you don't see it. I know you're in the midst of darkness, but I promise you, it's there. And as you walk through that darkness, you'll get, you'll get a little twinkle. And it will be the twinkle, and a twinkle. And you're going to get there and you're going to look back. And like, Who was that person? Who Who is that? I don't recognize. I think everybody at some point in their life has been there. I tell my clients that, hey, I'm going to tell you something, I would tell you a secret. You're not the only person telling me this. You're not the only person today that's living in this.

You're not the only person that's going through We all at some point have been been in a dark place. And some people are still in that dark place. And some have come out of that dark place and can tell you they didn't see the light when they were there. But at some point they came out and it was bright as ever. So believing yourself, extreme fear, can neither fight nor fly. When you're living in fear.

You're here. I can't walk over here. I can walk over here. I can't I can't I can't do my Who Dat dance. Don't kick me out y'all. My eight-year-old is born here, so I'm trying to fight him, well he when you try to be a Cowboys fam, I'm like, look boy. You know, he's born in Wichita Falls. And his teacher, Mr. Fraser told him it's okay to be a Cowboy's fan. And he came home and said, Mommy, Mr. Fraser says. It's okay to be a Cowboy's fan. And me and Mr. Frazier had words the very next day. I look at too many of us. My husband's from Georgia, so he's a Falcons. Feel so sorry for them.

You know, Falcons, Braves, Bulldogs and all that. I'm like, We can't do Cowboys, Just too many of us. It's like gumbo, just a mix of everything. But you can't you can't fight through it. If you're just sitting in it. You can't fly, you can't soar. You can say, Hey, why is my life not going anywhere today? Because we're stuck in that place. of fear, we're staying in that place of fear because they're worried about What if it goes wrong? What if it's not my purpose? What is my wife gonna say? What is my husband going to say. if I just want to have a career change? Because this is going to fulfill me and bring me joy that bring you joy. It's going to bring us joy. To bring us joy is going to bring our kids joy. I'll just stay here because this this safe. And then when we get in our in our later years we tell our kids, don't be afraid, right? Do whatever you want, then my grandma come You can do anything. Then I'm like grandma but you.. Look, I said you could do anything. So, I say that to say, do it scared? If you don't know what it is? We're going to talk about that. Find your purpose and find your passion. Next slide, please.

If you can't figure out your purpose, figured out your passion. Your passion will lead you right into your purpose. And I asked you that thing. What do you love? What brings you joy? And not even just talking about my why. I want to be known as this is who I am. you know, outside of that. You talked about this as well. Finding that passion, finding that thing. And sometimes we have multiple passions. I love to read, I love basketball, so my husband. I don't care which y'all do on these other holidays on Christmas, I am home because it's basketball from 11 o'clock to 10 PM. I'm not leaving my couch. But I have that leads me no where to my purpose but, figure out what that thing is. What is it that you enjoy? What is that thing that you love? I don't know if it's hard for my purposes, I'm not going to do it Do it anyway. Because you may find that it may lead you to that place you've been trying to get to. Don't allow it to let sit still. Write down What makes me happy? What have I done in the past year? Hmm, That was good. I feel good. I think I'll do that again. That was great.

That was great. That reminds me of why I feel This is where I feel in my spirit is where I need to be. If you don t know the goal as we talk about in therapy, what are your goals? Why are you here?

Why are you here? Well, let's talk about the objectives here. You know, we know we're in college, the syllabus and all of that, I can't stand the syllabus. I'm sorry, I can't stand the syllabus. But the syllabus because the outcome is this. And in order to get here, these are the things we need to do. So you can have passion. Question mark, because I just don't know. But I'm sorry, purpose the question mark. But I can tell you this. I'm passionate about this, and I'm passionate about this and I am passionate about this. Oh, okay.

Wow That was right there all along. And I didn't even know it.

Next slide, please.

So passion and purpose. And like I said, sometimes we think they're the same thing and some people use them interchangeably, but they are quite different. When you talk about just what your purpose is. Your purpose is your why. Why am I here? Why do I exist outside of what my parenting and not paying attention and not planning and all these things. You know, why, why am I here? What is my meaning? I remember when I got out of the military, I was I was asking myself all of these questions because I want to tell you all before I got into the field of therapy. I wasn't, Because I was military police. So I did criminal justice. Before that when I was overseas, I did business. I thought at some point I was going to work for ICE. I'm telling y'all, you know, I did all of the Homeland Security certifications. Look, I did it all. So I have, I think I had like one class left for my criminal justice degree, and I just, I don't want to be a cop. I'm like, why am I doing this? And I'm thinking it's going to make my family happy if I just do something and if I get out and do something or get out with a degree because nobody has a degree. So again, all that pressure is on me. I just get out and do something. And so I just start thinking about all these different things and when I got out of the military, um, I don't want to do any of that. So what is my why?

So what is my why? And i'll tell you? I couldn't figure out my why, but I'd got into that military mode is kept getting up and doing, and doing, and doing and doing. And I crashed six months later. And I said, Hey, I got into a job. I went to go work for DOD police, DOD police department on Kiesler Air Force Base, that all the physical training and everything like that. My baby was two months old. I don't know what I was thinking. Because again, it wasn't that hey, like I told my husband sit down. I'm telling you to sit down from experience.

Sit down. I didn't sit down. I got out and started applying and went through the process. and you know the government takes a long time you know, and start doing all the things. And I was working 12 hour days. He was deployed for ten months. We got some Mississippi his first deployment was ten months, second deployment was eight months. His missed our daughter's first and second birthday. So, I was there doing this, doing a lot, trying to be a parent and figure out, hey, I'm not going to be just a spouse. You know, I wanted to do my thing too. and this lead me down as placing that I struggled so bad. Luckily, it was only two months in and I'm like geeze, I can't work these tweelve hour days, fourteen hour days and go get my daughter and we'd go eat and go to sleep and that's it. And after two months, I just I told him it's not going to work. And so I went back to the drawing board, again, what do I like? What do I enjoy? And I did several jobs after that. I took a job paying me $7 an hour. And I was like, I came from the military. Was was getting paid this and I wasn't the Middle East, I'm not just... You know, but I got to dress up what I'm deeply a tomboy real life. But it was different from being a uniform every day. That gun belt around my waist and vests, bulletproof vest everyday. And I got to just talk to people and just be me. And it felt great.

And now selling jewelry. So again, it wasn't, it was a passion because it allowed me to be with people and listen to what they need. When you've ever went to go ring shopping. And it asks you about your wife and you know, actually about your partner. And they're sitting and listening, understanding. We're still kinda, I don't see how that connects. That's what I do now. I sit, I listen, I understand. I connect.

Who would think working at Kay Jewelers would lead me here, which is why I say it's closer. It's closer than you think. So look at what you feel here. What interests you, what are your objectives, what energizes you when you get up every day? I was in a training last time, was I can't remember a couple that's dsyfunctional. I get them everyday ready to hear out, figure out who, who got the problem today. You know, like what, what can we do? How can I help? You see cake here is because it's, the passion. Is the cake because the base of the cake never changes. What does the yellowcake, white cake? Red velvet cake got a couple of steps. Haven't mastered that yet. But I can make a good rum cake. But the base, the flour, the sugar, the who bakes, what else? The baking soda and the salt. Just a little sprinkle. None of that changes.

That's your passion. Your passion is the cake, your purposes, the icing. You can change the icing. You can change the icing. You can change icing. I want chocolate icing, I want buttercream, I want vanilla. But the recipe to the base of the cake is the same. That cake is your purpose when you put the icing, and you put the treats, then you put all those things. You know, that, that is your passion. Because I just want to eat the cake. I don't care about this stuff. You know what, those who make it, their thing. So when you think about what is your, what is your cake? If you all know what we know what our cake is, what kind of kick the like? What do you like on top of your cake? Like a whip cake. So think about that in terms of this is my purpose. But this right here on top for that's my passionate and those together, I mean, so unstoppable. Those together you're going to change so many lives, you're going to change your life. Even if those who are in the house with you, those who you walk by every day. That's why you are here.

Next slide, please. What am I still don't know my purpose? Well, I don't know what to tell y'all.

Cause I feel like I've been giving y'all good stuff. But, identify what is blocking you. Again. Is it fear? Are you worried about what other people are going to say? Do you feel that I should carry on to the path because my grandma was a nurse and my mom was a nurse and I should be a nurse and I don't want to be a nurse and, you know, all of those things like what is it that's blocking you? Am I still so connected to the military of get up and go and they tell me what to do. I don't know how to figure it out for myself. So that's what the block of me and keeping me stuck.

I haven't had to make my own decisions. so I don't know how to fit in this and what if I make the wrong decision? So identify what is blocking you.

Spend some time in peace. I'm going to tell you as a mom of three, Oh God.

I love my peace of the day. The other day I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. And it's not my normal.

It's usually about 5:30, 6. I woke at 4:30 I said I got some things to do. I'm just gonna get up a little early and I foughts it. I was like, what was I thinking, girl? I talked to myself, y'all, What was I thinking. And when I went to my home office and I sat there about twenty minutes, I'm like, I can do this every day.

Because I'm a night owl, but I have to go to bed because I got to get in the morning to take care of kids. So I was like, I could do this every day. It's so quiet and peaceful and nobody is there. But you, you can be honest with yourself. You can be who you really want to be. Spend time with yourself.. Still figure out what drives you do a review of your life, especially coming out of the military. Do a review of your life. I tell my clients who come in and I see a lot of clients that suffer from depression. I say, well lets talk about a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. Tell me about your accomplishments. I don't I don't want to talk about that black hole. I want to talk about life before that black hole. Because what happens is we forget, we forget about our accomplishments. We forget how he made people feel. We forget those things we love about ourselves. I ask that person the other day and said she wants to keep flying. As I remember we were told me she told me to hold somebody's hand during a major event in their life. Remember when you told me like twenty minutes ago that you are holding someone's hand? I say, and you're here today because you're depressed and you don't know your purpose and use some days you'll know if you want to live, you know, but just look back at that. Even in the midst of that, even in the midst of that hole, you were able to have that compassion and walk someone else to joy.

Look at that. When you say, I don't know who I am. I don't know why I'm here. That right there was why you're here. Because we can go to the negative, negative things about ourselves, but don t think about, wow, I just helped somebody the other day through a panic attack, While I'm sitting here in depression. Do a review of your life.

Create a list. Like I said, I done worked, the bank. That was, oh Lord.

I don't know what I was thinking. I've worked at a bank, like again, just find that thing and just do it. And if you don't like it, okay, I did it and move on. I know sometimes it's easier said than done. But sticking that thing until you find that next thing and move on and keep moving. Because I rather you say, Hey I've tried ten thousand times to figure out my purpose is, instead of sticking with that thing just one time I'm going to stay here because I'm scared. Feel your fear.

It's okay to acknowledge your fear and say, hey, girl, hey dude, I'm scared. And the person gonna talk back at your head and say, Yeah, me too. But we don't do it anyway. Support system. Always say Where your people at, who your people? Find your people. One thing I love, and you mentioend earlier about Facebook and Facebook groups. Oh my gosh, there's so many military veteran groups. And when I got out, I didn't have a lot of that.

I didn't have a lot of that. For me, there's a spouse community, but I couldn't find spouses like that because my life is a little bit different. I came from the military. Some of them saw me as, I'm here. Your know where you have GI Bill or you have this, and I'm still lost, and I'm still a wife. and my husband is not here. so I didn't connect with a lot of people. So I say find your people who's your family, your support system. Who are those people who are like you, who may get you? If you feel like, hey, I don't know who gets me, I get you, I promise you I do. So if you need to talk to me after or I need my card, or wanna pull me aside and say something, Hey, I get you. But, If you find your people, ask them, what am I good? You may find things you don't know. What am I good at? What do you like about me?

I've asked husband that. What do you love about me?

What do you love about me? Because sometimes people see things in us that we don't see in ourselves. and then your like, oh, wow. Okay.

Next slide, please. I want to give you some resources. I know we're going to talk about that a little bit later. But these are just some of the things for me I can say that has helped me.

When I was looking for other resources I don't want to give you something that oh the place that is to get jobs, right? Places to where you can go and sit and you can talk with people, you can get support, you can get resources, you can get resumes. you know, all this kind of support. I used to work at Military Once. I told you I worked everywhere when I was in Virginia and I did a lot of Wounded Warrior with a lot of wounded warriors. And I worked there Peer Support Program coaching members and military spouses who are transitioning out of military. And oddly, it was the I don't know what I'm gonna do. I've been doing this for 23 years. I'm, you know, a Sergeant Major, I don't know.

I don't know. Anybody. Also at our watch party if you've been out for at least a year or a year or less, all the service, a therapy services, transitioning veteran services, the Wounded Warriors with all the services they have at Military OneSource, their counseling, absolutely free for a year after you get out. I didn't know that. I'm like when I got I'm like, I wish I knew that when I got out. No one no one tells you these things. That's why I can tell my husband and these things. They have people there that you can call and say, Hey, I'm getting out. They have a transitioning service. I'm like, Oh, where was that for me. I'm kind of mad.

I'm kind of mad. I'm working and I'm like where was that for me? You can call them up to a year, up to two years. They have a checklist for you. Who knew that?

Who knew that? Nobody. Nobody knew that. And I told my husband that while he was in, I said Tell your sailors this. He's like, Oh, I didn't know that. How did you didn't know, you're still in the military? No one knows about the services that are available to us. I used to just sit on the phone and listen to service members. They got out and they're struggling. And they call for therapy and we can we can cannot be therapy because you may be presented, be suicidal or, you know, XYZ and they'll give them other services outside of that. But hey, we have a peer support. And so that's how they got to me. And we've talked about that. We've talked about passion and what their purpose was and how to get out of that hole and things like that. So I highly recommend if you know someone who's still in and their not get the services from their command Please call Military OneSource. Because of they don't have it I'll promise you they can get you to it. And if they still can't get you to an exit wound to war because one of the warrior will kick down some doors and make some things happen for you. So also Department of Labor, Salute our Heroes. There are so many other sources. I know Dallas College has a lot of resources for you as well.

Next slide, please. So I want you to keep in mind your purpose may change. When you went in and it's sometimes some people found their self when they were in the military. I know my husband when he was there for 20 years, he was living in his purpose. He probably would've stayed in no, no, no.

I'm like look sir... But it changes and now he's out. He's out there, you know finding his new purpose. And maybe to the new passion cause maybe that purpose is still to serve but in a different capacity. So sometimes you feel that, hey, I served my purpose, maybe a purpose, it's continuous. Maybe it's just different. And if it changes, that's okay to be okay with that. And also, if you're in fear than do it in fear, Cause I'd rather you do it in fear than not at all. Next slide, please.

Y'all have any questions for me. Anybody, any questions. I think I might be a little over bit over. I'm sorry, Mike, if I am. Okay. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you. And again, thank you so much for for doing this. Thank you. Yeah. Dallas College for really doing this. Let's thank Kasey again one more time before we, sometimes it's hard work. But if you come up with military, your used to hard work, so just different focus, different orientation. So we're going to transition now. We've got lunch prepared. I got the thumbs up that the meals are here, I hope that's the same also for any of the watch parties or anybody else that has something coming in. But before we move into that, I want it to each time we've kind of had a break here, we've been able to thank a group of people. And so this time I'd like to just give a special thanks to our department leaders that are here. So we've kind of been able to thank our institutional leaders and division leaders. But we have a couple of department leaders that are here and we want to make sure that we give them special thanks. Dr. Dina Sosa-Hegarty, thank you very much for being here and the leadership who are team reports directly to. All of the help I'm getting through here. For military, our, the way that our institution has been structured now is we have three distinct areas that serve really focused populations. So one of those is our success coaching. So they do all advising and getting them in. Our role in program leads is helping them all on the outside like everything that they're experiencing with housing, food insecurities, mental health. We've been able to make those referrals out of a helping them on that support side. We've got another team that does just our benefits certification and compliance area. And Dr. Shirley Higgs is with us here today representing net area. Dr. Higgs, thank you for being here. And also for our Counseling and Psychological Services or Associate Dean or Interim Associate Dean, Kaitlin Hill. Thank you for being here and part of our planning getting us here. The last group is going to be an all-star panel that's kinda helped put all this stuff together. So we're going to save them for last. So we're going to make the transition now. So for those that are here, we're going to have our meals are ready, so we'll be able to exit the door off to the left, right around you can make an immediate right. And then there's a room in there where the box lunches or setups. So grab one of those, come on in, eat, talk with each other. Our program or service providers that are here. We're actually going to do a little quick change. We're gonna put a table up here and do some interviews of you. It's kinda like a little spotlight or five-minutes speed dating kinda thing where those that are not here, we'll be able to watch and see who is here. And so we're gonna go through that. It's gonna be new element.

So if it's the little, a, little, a little off or kinda seemed a little clunky. It's because we're working. And so with that, we're going to make that transition. Also. If over the meal. While this is going on, feel free to please visit our servers venders out here. They've been having students come through that are walking around. We're doing this while school going on. So we're getting a lot of exposure for those organizations on not just the veterans and service members, families that need that information, but also others that just to know what's out there. So we're really glad to have them. So at this point we're going to make that transition. And you guys enjoy your meal.

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Panel Discussion 1: Transition +1, Day 1 as a Veteran

As this area here fills up, we know that there are many more people outside that are watching, so we want to make sure that we get started here. And also we're going to be recording this because I think a lot of the information that we share that we talk about, it's going to be valuable for us as an organization or anybody else that comes in and is learning about how veterans experience their transition and how organizations, specifically Dallas College or any other organization can learn to adjust and change to see how they can learn to serve those veterans better. Good morning. My name is Mike Anguiano. I'm the Program Lead at Dallas College and I've got the best view in Dallas College at Mountain View. We're glad to be here at the Richland campus for our 2022 Veterans Mental Health Summit. We're in our fourth year of this partnership with Dallas College and VA North Texas. And the aim of this initiative was to bring timely conversations and focus on veteran mental health in effort to improve our awareness and responsiveness to issues that veterans face. We purposely positioned this event in the month of September during Suicide Awareness Month. And this year specifically on September 22nd to acknowledge the alarming statistic that many veteran initiatives and organizations are built around, that approximately 22 veterans commit suicide each day. And I think I heard a statistic earlier on the radio about over the pandemic, that number went up to 30 each day. Depending on the data you look at that number can be more or less. But regardless of what that number is, I think we can all agree that even one person that's commit suicide, that's one-to-many. And any effort that we make towards improving our responsiveness or ways that we can help is going to be effort well-spent. So learning how we can connect, learning what needs an individual has, how we can connect them to people, programs, or resources in the area to help them is gonna be a worthwhile effort. So thank you all for being here. So that's why we're here today and our house will start to fill up here as people start coming in, probably as we get closer to the lunch hour and we have lunch available. So I'm sure this will start filling up then.

Hopefully we're stretching the limits of our bandwidth for our virtual participants who are logging in from any one of our Watch Parties. And I think over the pandemic, one of the learning outcomes that we've had is that geography, location should not be a barrier for how we connect with and serve our customers. Specifically for Dallas College our students. We've learned how to pivot, learn how to create things and do things virtually. So we're using the strength of that learning and applying it to now. Where historically this has been an in-campus event for two years. We did have it on different campuses on each day. For the last two years, we had to do it all virtual. For the first time we're going to bring both of those together. We want to extend the reach and the learning that we can have by bringing people together and learning more about how we can help, we can help each other. So if you're at one of our watch parties logging in, if you're here. Welcome. And we thank you all for being here. So we're gonna get right into our panels and our program. This year, our event, our event was as focused on Thriving Beyond Rank, Finding, meaning and purpose after military service. Now our focus is on the veteran transition experience, transitioning from military service and into the into civilian civilian life. Every service member who leaves the military, who gets out, goes through that transition. And it is a unique experience. The military experience is unique. There are clear directions on what's expected of you. The mission is clear.

Your role in that mission is clear and defined. You know, whether or not you fit in, whether or not you're good at your job, when you accomplish the mission or when you get your performance evaluations from your superiors. And they let you know how well you are doing. The commitment.

We have a commitment across all branches to maintaining military standards regards to the branch. We kinda know what to expect of each other. But while we may know exactly what it takes to be a good marine, sailor, soldier, airman, coastie, we're not always given that same type of operating manual as a civilian. And we take on new roles or assume new roles with a new identity. As a husband, father, friend, colleague, where we may not all be working from the same operating manual like we did in the military. So in civil cases, we may have an operating manual at all. And so navigating that transition. And we want to look at that experience through a series of panels today. We're going to look at it from the primary individual that goes to that, the veteran, what they experienced and some of the things that they've learned as they go through and maybe some advice that they give to others. We're also going to look at those veterans supporters, those who are immediately supporting that veteran. The spouses, the organizations, companies that look look to support veterans that are that are in those companies and organizations. And then we're also going to look at some of those service providers, those that were on the ground that are actually meeting with these veterans and helping them navigate happened, then renegotiate things in their their head and what they go through. So we feel like taking this triple lens at that experience will give us a good understanding about what happens, what happens to the veteran, what happens to others around them, and how we can help. So that's what we're here today. Over lunch, we're going to focus on some of our resource providers and very grateful that many of them have joined us here because today, as many might know, is the North Texas Giving Day. So for those organizations who may have fundraising efforts today is a big day for them. And so we're very grateful for those who've chosen to be with us. And part of this conversation that you've made time for us. So thank you all for being here. Over lunch we're going to actually do a little spotlight of all those organizations that are with us. And so while we are eating here or while others are eating at their place of business or at one of the watch parties, they're going to see those interviews. So this is where geography is not going to be a limitation to getting to know who has been here. So we're going to be able to meet and talk with all of those. So we're going to move into our first panel. We're going to focus on our veteran experience. Military offers a sense of routine, structure, and purpose that is very difficult to replicate and civilian life. This session is going to focus on the lived experience of transitioning from military to civilian life with veterans. Challenges that they may face and just really a perspective that they have about that. Leading our discussion is going to be Jon Tarell. He is a Senior Manager for our military connected services at Dallas College and Air Force veteran. Thank you Jon for being here. Joining him on stage is going to be as I call your name, you guys can make your way up. Alejandro Sosa is a US Army veteran, Alejandro served with the First Squadron and Third Calvary Regiment out of Fort Hood. Serving in several operations during his time. He's separated from the Army in December of 2021, enrolled in Dallas College at 2022 in the spring semester. On the path to become a biomedical engineer, he's determined to provide as much support as he can to other student veterans. Alejandro serves as the president of the Dallas College Student Veterans Association. So thank you Alejandro. Pastor, Victor Lee. Yeah, please.

Welcome. Pastor Victor Lee, US Army, A native Texan, Pastor Lee enlisted in the Army after high school and served two years separating in 1993. That's part of my era. Victor is an entrepreneur. a real estate agent, is a pastor of the Chosen Church, is a coach for Pee Wee football, community leader, mentor, motivational empowerment speaker, volunteers at his elementary school. Victor's top goal is to be an impactful source to his community by showing love to each person that crosses this path. Thank you, Pastor Lee. Thank you. Cindi Scibelli Cindy is a US Army veteran, a New York native, who has she has a degree in Masters of Information Systems. and she is a foster and adopted parent. So thank you, Cindi for being with us. Like goes with our Hand-in-Hand program is like this is where a lot of our programs really kinda have that cross connection with how we support and really who makes up our student populations. DaVonte Valmont, US Navy. So he's the only one that's going to help balance out this Army panel here.

Good luck. DeVante served seven years in the Navy is a corpsman as a cardiovascular tech with duty at Walter Reed Medical Center and the evaluation and treatment unit DeVante serves as the Public Affairs Officer of the Dallas College Student Veterans Association is pursuing a degree in computer science. So Jon, the floor is yours. Good looking panel. You guys ready?

You guys ready? So what would you say your experience transitioning out of the military? What was it like? Positive. Negative. What were some of the the ups and downs that you faced, some common pitfalls that you may have all all faced. Similarly. Alright.

So for me personally, whenever I was transitioning out of the military, it was very well-structured where you have to, you know, give out your plan. However, one thing that they don't cover is once you leave that base, you kinda lose all that support that you have available.

For me whenever I left the base and move back home. It was it was kinda hard to bond or I felt some isolation. Especially when you're leaving behind close friends and your states away. And so other than whenever I left. the, and I had no idea that whenever I was going to attend Dallas College that there's like what I was going to do between that gap between whenever I left and whenever school started. And so whenever I had all that time, you kinda have the ability to reflect what you've done over the course of your career. And so for me, I had a lot of hardship. There's a lot of unresolved grief that I wasn't able to go through or to go through the grieving process with some lives that were lost during my military career. And so I kinda had difficulty coping because now I have all this time. In the military.

You have your hours all planned out. You got your day is planned. And whenever you are suddenly hit with no plan, that's when things can feel a bit overwhelming. But luckily, I did have to resort with going to AA because I wasn't able to find a clinic quick enough to receive those mental health services. And after, and once school started, I got familiarized with the counseling services here at Dallas College and I utilize the services here. And I can say that they've helped. It helped greatly, especially with helping me get back on the path on the, on my academic career. That's about as much as i'll I'll share right now.

That was fantastic. Thank you, Alejandro. Victor, what about you? I pretty much agree with my fellow panelists. Everything the military does, they secure us, it's a bubble. So once you leave, I don't think, I don't think they have enough resources to teach you to follow your passion or find your passion. So when you finally get home, you go from having been in close close-knit buddies. We fought, shot, killed. Did all these things together, not your home by yourself, But you're not by yourself. You were their family.

Exactly, but it s totally different because now even even with that being said, your family So I look up to you because you are you are sort of hero to them because you went and served. So its not, it's a different it's a different position now with your family. Instead of leaving as your brother or son, when you come back, everybody looks at you as, as, as, as sort of a hero because you wouldn't serve the country. You can be, you can be vulnerable with your brothers in arms, but you can't be vulnerable with your family. You have to be tough. So what happens is it does isolate you, put you on an isolated place. And I really, I really, really, really pray for the military that's getting out now because if you don't know exactly what you wanna do when you get out, you could fall into a dark place. And that dark place could be That's you even heard. 22 suicides a day. I totally understand that because if you don't have a passion, if you don't know exactly what you want to do, what makes you move on a daily basis. You could feel stuck because you went from being in the military. With all your fellow troops then you come home, but everybody look up to you. So you really can't, like you said, you can't be vulnerable and say Hey man, I'm struggling. I'm struggling because, you their hero. And so I just really encourage carriers, the troops. I know it's tough because the days are structured. But if it was a way that we can really pull out the passion of each troop while in the military. So when they do get out, they have something to fall back on immediately. If there was a way to take a design a program within the military while you're in it to, okay, we know this is what you love. This is what you're gonna be doing when you get out. I think that will really help a lot. And then not being achamed to go and get mental health not being ashamed to go talk to the therapist. Promote that, let people know, let them know this okay, to talk about whatever struggles and thoughts you have in your head. Because it's gruesome.

The military's. I really loved, I loved my experience. But I think that I have in my mind is a little stronger than a lot. Its not stronger, but I got out with my mindset was still okay. So I have friends and fellow troops that anything could trigger them immediately and they down spriral. So I just, you know, but I'm just thankful that, you know, that I got out. my mind is okay. But his real, mental health is real. And so I would just really promote, finding the passion and really promote letting them being able to talk to a therapist and not being the same as talking about what's going on in your mind. That's good, That's good advice. Ma'am, what was your experience transitioning out of the military? I separated in '91 and there wasn't much resources. When I separated, I pretty much was given my bag and put on a bus. I had no plan, no place to live. I didn't have a family to return to. I was just pretty much on my own. It was it was kind of scary. Luckily, I and everyone had moved on. And so luckily I had a friend who was rehabbing an apartment and let me stay in an unfinished, he had five apartments in a complex and let me stay in an unfinished department where I'd have to go use someone else's restroom. That's that was my experience of transitioning out.

It was a little weird. There was there was no support. I didn't even know about VSO or any kind of support. I had to find out from other veterans. There was there was nothing there was really nothing in '91. I'm glad that there's a lot more resources and a lot more advertising than now. Although I'm still shocked at how many people come out and still don't know what's out there. And I'm glad that we have services and I volunteer now at a place called Walker House where we're open five days a week for people to just drop in and find out about resources. But still there's still a lack of support. And I totally understand the 22 a day and I understand why it increased to 30 a day during COVID because it's, it's, it's real. The, the mindset changes. And I was only in a short time. Yeah, it's shocking how many people you see that our housing insecure that are from that generation of veterans that just did not essentially ignored, like a generation that was just ignored really by the support system. And if you think about it, there was no social media. No. So when you get out, you don't have a vet. I'm part of many many Facebook veteran veteran held inside the Facebook but you didn't have that. So you get out is just you by yourself and just word of mouth. But the people that can get word of mouth from are still in the military. And the people at home really don't know all the resources that veterans have. We got I was just word of mouth. Now, social media, Thank God. so, you could just go online and you could find so much stuff. But even that's a hurdle. that's difficult for some veterans to get to. Mr. Valmont, what about you. So y'all notice they save the sailor for last. From my own personal experience, I mean, I don't want to define it as negative, but a positive because of an experience. I feel like you go through anything you learn from it and transitioning out, I transitioned in 2017. And I was I was doing cardiovascular technology as some of you may heard I've been doing computer science now, so complete different switch around for passion. But they made us go through taps class is like a checklist. They say, Hey, these are the things that are out there. You gotta do these if you want to do something.

Cool, get off the base. And there's no follow-up. And I think a good program would be if maybe you like you could be assigned to maybe like a transitioning counselor for at least six months to a year or something and someone that you could have to check in with to know and get more detailed information about the resources that are available to you as you become a veteran from active duty. I had to do a lot of personal research in my area from going leaving from where my base wants to come back home to Texas to go through the VA to get my disabled veterans card to do this. And X, Y, and Z. There was no one to really guide me along that process. So it was very much a struggle going through that on my own. Agreeing with Alejandro how he said about isolation as well too, because when I first joined the military, I joined at 17. I was a boy when I left my family. And then I'm coming back now 20, whatever, I'm seen as a man, as a hero, as I've done this x, y, and z to my family, and it's hard to relate to them in certain aspects because they don't have this same type of experiences I have, right. And even my personal friends from back home. When you come back home, it's like they want a completely different route than I did. So we can't really talk about the same things. You do kinda feel alone a bit and you just, you don't really know who is it I gotta reach out to. Thankfully, you not do keep in contact with a lot of my brothers and sisters that I've made from my military experience. And they've been a great help to from the ones who've stayed in there. Also the ones who have transitioned and being able to speak to them as well. But in all I mean, I'm thankful for it because getting to see, I guess the civilian side from the military side and the key differences from when I first got it, I went working first. So I had a skill set that I learned and I went to go do that exact same job. And seeing difference of how people have more of a choice for the hours they work and how they get paid versus being told to do something and we have to get that done. You feel sometimes like I'm more motivated or Do I have more desire to do more or what is it? And even in that light, it's hard to relate to even just like counterparts of doing a job or a task together that have match in training kinda in a way. But your work ethic seems a little bit different. So you've seem off from other people. Yeah. I mean, that's just been my personal experience and it's been it's been rough but I'm getting better at it. And I think that as long as maybe we could just find some way to help key people along to see like there are resources out there. Once you find those resources that are available to you, they can help and guide you better to get to what you wanna do. So with that being said, would you guys say that there's any major things of avoidance as you transition that you would recommend for military members that are getting out now, like would you say that you would recommend jumping into a job or would you recommend jumping into school? Would you recommend staying in the area that you're getting out of the military and as opposed to going back home, a place you escaped essentially when you joined the military to begin with, maybe those environments are not healthy for you. So what would you say are some major things that you should avoid as you're transitioning out. We go back down.

I'm gonna go first this time. I mean, for me, I think that is kinda depending on like case-by-case. Of course, I feel that to succeed, you should probably be in the area where you think you will receive the most amount of support to help you succeed, if that makes sense for what I'm trying to say, right? For some people, depending on their family environment or family dynamic, it might be better for them to go back home because they may still have that deep connection with their family or depending on what part of their life they're at, where they may have a spouse and children are whatever they need to set up for themselves to succeed is what they define as success for them or for the person who's not exactly sure what they wanna do. Your bills still come every month. You still got to make something. So you might have to work initially right after. So I think it is kinda case-by-case, but I think that they should do more to speak with each veteran and help them design a plan, right? Because the problem I feel like most people get out and they said they don't have a plan. We don't know what we're doing. We're just kinda making it up as we go along and see what we can do versus what we think that we should do. And I think that's where we lack at because like I said, the only thing that I received was TAPS class. Here's some PowerPoints. Here's what you can go do. Okay, cool. And that was it.

Yep. So. Victor. You want to add something to that? I totally agree with everything. I would, I would really tell the troops now to avoid avoid really avoid the security blanket that you have in the military. What do you mean by that? You're gonna, you're gonna have to totally be independent when you leave.

The military they do it, they, inside, they do every single thing for you. It makes sure you file your taxes. They make sure, they make sure you do these things that you're supposed to do on your own. And so you really have to avoid that that covering, you got to say, Okay, I'm no longer covered by the military because that could be that could be mentally draining. Leave someone's a place where everything is taken care of. And then now you just add here by yourself. So when you do leave, avoid the covering, just say, Okay, I'm going out on my own. I need to make, I need to understand. I needed to really I really, I really try to push people to their passion, find out what it is that you love to do, and just go in that area. If you, Let's just say if you love playing basketball, just going to be, just going to be a coach or agent or some find something in that area to where it can help. Help your mind, it can help you continue to be and thrive in life because you will compare your life in the military of how everybody see you. To now, you're staying in the house that's not even fully renovated. And just having that thought process every night. Having a go use the restroom or somebody else home.

Where as everybody see you, see you in the military. see you as a hero, but now you're seeing yourself and you're comparing you're comparing who you are and where you are to how people see you and how you think they see you. That right there, I can make somebody to lose their mind. So really just avoid, avoid the fact that, okay, when I leave here, I got to basically leave this behind. I'm going into a whole another world and I need to make it happen. I need to make it happen on my own. And if you could get to, if you get past that point and get to your passion, I think you do super well. But it's just getting past being, being covered, being covered.

The military We have the greatest military in the world period. And they take care of every single troop inside. Every single troop is taken care of. And you have all you need, all you want. And like Alejandro, say, the day is structured so you don't have to wake up and say, what I'm gonna do today. You've about to run five miles. It'd be taking you go come back to the barracks, take a shower, and then you go out for gun training or your going to go, It's already laid out for you. And you know, what day is it you're off. If you get out and you get a job like a retail job and they the only, you know, your work days are different every week. You might work three days on one week, four days on the next. That imbalance is not the same as it was and you start comparing, you start comparing your life to where you were in the military. And sometimes that can just be, it can be a challenge just overcoming that. So I would say, just really avoid the fact that Hey, their not helping me anymore. Avoid that in your head. Just say When I leave, I have to understand that is my time to go out and do what I'm supposed to do with my life. If you can get that, mindset you'd be good, you'd be good to go.

Alex, do you have anything? Yeah.

So I'd say definitely avoid having unoccupied time throughout your day.

Because it's good to have your time occupied. To kinda have time so that you don't start reflecting on the bad aspects of your career and the good. Because whenever you start, when you have that window of opportunity where you do have time to reflect. That's where a lot of us get caught in the downward spiral. And it just, you know, the whirlwind just starts growing from there. So it's important to find something that you are passionate about, something you like doing and spending some time doing it. Because especially when, whenever you recently transitioned out, there's a lot of things that you have to work through mentally. And so while you're working through those issues, you want to also find something that you can be productive in. And so you don't fall into the trap of thinking about the things that you could have done better, the things you could have done differently. So that outcomes would have been different. And so it's important to ask for help. Or not ask, but reach for help. That it's okay to reach out. So that's all I got. So you guys I'm curious. I'm sure all of your time in the military was not perfect, right? We've seen this well oiled machine work and then sometimes not work. Right? We've gotten it up close and personal. What gave you faith that they were going to have a great transition program when you left the military? Like what did you assume you are gonna get this red carpet? They're going to set you up with an apartment and a job and they're going to sign you up for your first semester of classes. What did you anticipate when you left the military? That's a great question. It's such a great question. I can tell you my experience, I was in Saudi Arabia and they were they were really trying to get me to stay in it. So that's another thing. We don't even, some people don't even know we're gonna get it, when they are going to leave. Because you can always re-enlist. And so I was in Saudi Arabia. They sent me over there in March. My ETS, that means get out date, was November. So I was over there the whole summer and they were trying to get me to re-enlist and I said, No, I'm not re-enlisting. They sent me back October. They sent me back 30 days. I flew back by myself. and did an out process and in 30 days. So from being over there, from being in Saudi Arabia, coming home for 30 days and do an out processing. And now I'm flying back to Dallas. And so that's just such a big, because you don't know you still can, you still can re-enlist. and so lot of troops don't even know if they're gonna re-enlist. And so by the time they make a decision to leave, I don't know what kind of programs that could be implemented in the military. For people like that, that don't really know if they're teetering. Because you don't have to you don't have to make a choice six months out. You can make the choice to get out 30 days out. We only had 30 days. We didn't have, in our era we didn't have a big out processing. It was 30 days. And the 30-day would just make sure you was healthy when you left So they physically just took your body through the ringer making sure you're good and then kick you out. So what I really thought would happen, I really thought it would be a red carpet, but I really thought, you know what, I served my country. They feel bless me to go home. You know, when I get off the plane there's going to be a parade for Victor Lee. He served his country. That is not what happened. My brother my brother pulled up in his raggedy hooptie. He picked me up, I through my little duffle bag and the back trunk. Next, the next place we found ourselves was the liquor store trying to cope. Just trying to figure it out. I said man, I just take me to get something to drink because it was just because it can get overwhelming. You have the coping mechanism, what do you do? So that's why you have a lot of people that drink alcohol, a lot of alcohol being consumed, just trying to trying to deal with it without losing your mind. And that was the first place we went, so. Yeah, I didn't get the red carpet. I figured, I figured that the budget ran out or something. I didn't either dude, i didn't either. Anybody else want to chime in. I thought I'd get a letter or something telling me where to go or what to do. I got nothing. Nothing. So I ended up drinking. If it wasn't for AA, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. AA is what saved my life. I got I got no direction whatsoever. Military is great. Don't get me wrong. It really is. But after you get out, there's a piece missing. We need some direction. I can't speak for how it is today, but when I got out, there was a piece missing. I really thought I'd get some kind of letter or some kind of direction and I did not.

And, yeah, the liquor store, the liquor store was my direction. Trying to figured out. But like I said, luckily for me, I found my way into AAA.

Well, first I found my way into the psych hospital, then I found my way into AA, and it saved my life. I think for me my personal experiences just more like reactionary. So I didn't really think there's going to be much because I was kinda told beforehand, would first getting like, Hey, do what you need to learn something makes you have something, Because when you're done, you got nothing but that. So I kinda got a heads-up. I wasn't really expecting like a glorious scene or anything. But my reactionary was kind of stereotypical in a way because like I said, you know, 17, mom and dad's house, they don't want the big Navy's house. That's that's boss. And I was finally like. I was like free at last free at last, here I am by myself. Hair grew out.

I have little money saved up, staying home, drinking doing whatever, right. And I just, I spiraled for a little bit. But then it comes to a point where you like, let me get the reins back on this and that's when I started going back to work. But it was just Like i said, there's just there's just nothing else after that. And it was just kinda like a it's like a big shock, I guess in the beginning shock, it was fun because it was like, OK, I could do what I want when I want. But after that then it just, you know.

Yeah, it's weird to try to fill that void. Something healthy. Because, it's not as expedient is filling it with a vice, early on. I understand. So was there anything that the four of you found particularly useful or beneficial immediately after the transition or during that transitional time period that you were able to use as a crutch in a holistic or a healthy manner. So whenever I left, When I transition out in December of 2021. The spring semester started like halfway into January. And so I had those two weeks to myself. And so that first week I ended up at AA and so after I got some help there, they kinda gave me some insight and with the rest of the gap in time, I've used it in and I focused on fitness. And so not only was fitness away for me to kinda occupy my time and occupy my me thinking about something else other than the military. But it's also something where you can actually grab onto something materialistic. And so that's helped me personally because I've always been big on doing things with my hands being active. Whenever you're transition out and and, you know, you have nothing to do. That was my way to kinda fall back on.

Right on man. Anybody else have anything particularly helpful that you found as a life preserver? In the haze of, Well I went to counseling and then I had always wanted to foster and adopt since I was about 12 years old. So I started to look into that process and move in that direction. Awesome, too. Great. I mean, for me, I was just try to build, got better at building more personal relationships with people. And let's just say I'm just enjoying myself outside of the mundane. I got into some community groups for involvement, for community service because that was something I did allow while I was in the military that I felt like just made me feel good. So that kinda helped my positive mental space. And just keep an active in that way. How did y'all transition, this is to the panel, your family back into your lives? Like how did you slowly began to open up to them and be a little bit more honest and maybe a little less standoffish with them because that level of candor as hard when you get back immediately. But if you can't live with that, wait forever. So eventually just attrition is going to atrophy those muscles and you're gonna have to get it out in some way and maybe with the therapist or eventually with your family, hopefully. How did you guys reach those relationships and bolster them? I'll share.

I have to tell you a story actually. I worked at a daycare before I joined the military and I'd crawl around with the kids and everything. And so after I got out and I thought, well, I'll go back to work and at this day care. And I found that I couldn't. If a kid cried or fell down or something, I was like, Get up.

Shake it off. I couldn't do it.

I had to quit after a day. I had to go to some intense therapy in order to in order to work back through my feelings and to deal with people, I had to do something called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). It was pretty funny, not at the time though. But I look back now and it was pretty pretty hilarious. But yeah, I had to really work through What's EMDR? EMDR is like a tapping or the flashing of the lights. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but it's I don't know what it stands for.

I'm sorry. Flashing lights or tapping or sound or whatever. And you pay attention to that. And then the counselor asks you questions and then it's supposed to keep part of your brain occupied and it works really well for me because I have ADHD and, um, as long as it keeps me part of my brain occupied, then I'm able to, I guess, get to whatever it is I'm not sharing or something. I don't know. I'm sure somebody knows what it stands for, but I forget. It works. That's all I know. It really helps.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Yeah, that's it. Thank you. (Inaudible) It's fascinating. Very cool. I totally agree with my fellow panelists. I just I thank God for my wife. We've been married like 20 Let me get it right before I can go home. I don't want to you know what I'm going to say? I don't want to share her age so I'm just going to say 20 something years. Your good a being married. She really she really helped because, we have three boys. No matter what happened, I would say put some dirt on it, make it happen. She would come through and she what nurture nurture them. And I was just hard. I really was.

I looked back at it'd be like, well, you wasn't about nothing.

Because my mindset so, and I have to reconnect even with my sons because I was so disconnected because I was more like, you know, you make it happen, make it happen, make it happen. And so I thank God for the military that I got that from the military also, another great thing that I did get from the military is that I'm able to relate to anyone else because I came from an all black neighborhood. And so when I was in the military, we had to be friends with every nationality.

And we went to war. These are my brothers, so it helped me to be more outgoing, more to befriend people that don't look like me. And so I thank God for that. I really do that. That was one of the greatest things that I will say the military taught me is that just because people don't look like you, they're not wrong. So my best friend in the military he was Italian from New York.

I'm from Texas. And his first this first quote to me was man, do y'all.. Of course he didn't say y'all He said, he said, do you guys, do y'all stops and say Whoa, talking about we ride horse. That was a fun thing to me. And so he and I developed a really, really, really good and we still communicate to this day. But the military really helped me with diversifing and who I am as a man. And so I really thank I really thank the military for that so I can be in any room with any race and have no any kind of, I'm not intimidated. And of course I don't go in trying to intimidate, but I could fit in anywhere. And I thank the military for that. But on the flip side, the discipline side. Again, like I said, I thank God for my wife because my boys, they probably they probably when I ran away from me right now because I was just I was just so disconnectedness in the sense of, you know, take care of your business and do it now. Yeah, I had that type of mentality and that's what the military taught us. Do it and do it now. Sure.

Sure. You almost had like recondition your empathy? Absolutely. Basically because I've had it taken away from you for so long. Absolutely.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, listen, guys. I wanted to thank you all for your time today. You're a fantastic panel, will really appreciate you sharing your honest stories. And I think we're going to wrap up here and move on to our next moderated panel. So I'd like to bring Dr. Mike Anguiano back up to the stage. And thank you very much. I really appreciate you guys time today. Good morning, everyone.

My name is Milawn Dineen, and I just wanted to run by a few. Thank you's real quick. So I'm not Dr. Mike Anguiano. I'm a little shorter version of him. So we just want to say thank you to our sponsors for breakfast, for our donor, Camila and Clay by Betsy Tovar y'all give her a round of applause. She makes clay earrings. I'm actually fashioning those today. So if you look her up, we have all of our food next door for our folks today. So please, if you're a vendor staff, faculty, please check that out. It's wonderful goods for you guys today and we really appreciate you for being here. Thank you so much.

So she's a she's a Marine also. So she's close enough to being me so Marines can speak with each other and for each other. Well first we also want to make sure that we think a lot of our leadership that's helped us create in and host this event. You'll see if you look around the room, we got cameras kinda everywhere. We've got a lot of teams that are coming together. So we want to take a moment to thank our leadership at Dallas College that only encourages us to events like this, but also supports us being able to host it on campus and then make sure that we have access to it online. So there's a lot of, lot of people coming together to make the production part of this happen. So we want to be sure to thank our Chancellor, Dr. Lonon, and our Vice Chancellor, Dr. Joseph, for the leadership. They provide not only for Dallas College in whole, but also in each each of our areas where we're focusing on the experience and the support that we can provide students and to a greater extent, helping change our community through education. So we thank them for their leadership. Also going to take our campus leadership for allowing us to host the event here. And I'd like to call a Dr. Eggleston up just to say a few words of welcome for all you from the campus. So Dr. Eggleston, if you'll make your way up, we'd love to have you come and join us here. Hello everyone. I am so delighted to welcome you to the Richland campus of Dallas College. I'm Dr. Kay Eggleston and I serve as president here at Richland campus. We are delighted to be the host site for this very important summit. And I can't emphasize enough the importance of the work that our teams are doing in support of our veteran students and their families. And also our teams that help us to put on today's event. I'm really excited. We've got student interns at the cameras, so we have our students at work here gaining jobs skills that are so important. We have our LeCroy and Service Center teams behind the scenes doing all of the work to ensure that the broadcast can go forward. So I'm very proud of all the teams that help make this possible. An event like today speaks to me personally. I am the daughter of a career military family. And so my entire life was military. Although I was not in the military myself, but our entire life was in the family of serving our military. And so I have tremendous pride and respect for everyone who serves and the support from their families and spouses and children. And we now are shining much more light on mental health services, which is so critical. It just is so critical that we elevate and amplify the needs and the support. And as a health care professional myself, I really understand the need to bring into the open, the discussion and the services and the help for our military veteran families. And so I applaud the work you're doing. Keep doing great work in support of our veterans and in support of our country, the United States of America. Thank you. I think I've heard it said once more than once, is that the individual is the one that signs a contract, but it's the family that serves. So it's any of their family members. I don't consider that they were part of the military. I think are are mistaken. They are there every step of the way. They experience a lot of what we experienced also in the military from a different angle, from a different perspective. And so later today we'll get to hear a little bit about that. Also want to thank our division in area of leadership here, Dr.

Dr. Stephanie Hill and Dr. Carlos Cruz for leadership and support. As you get closer to the event, It's almost like the hill gets steeper and steeper. And it's when people who are committed and leaders that are committed behind you that helped you get it across the finish line and to the event day. So we are very grateful for your leadership. Thank you very much. We have a lot of team members that are part of actually doing a lot of the details stuff. And so we're gonna make sure that we give them the appropriate, thanks and recognition at the end of the event when we've been able to take it all in.

Panel Discussion 2: Expanding Scaffolding in Transition Support

Well, welcome back from lunch. I hope everyone enjoyed whatever goodies they found in your little box because I did. So I'm so glad you're here today. My name is Karen Cuttill and I'm one of the licensed professional counselors here in Dallas College. I actually am housed on this campus, so I feel blessed. I am also the military veteran or veterans military connected, mental health specialist. And so I helped promote services for our veterans are military connected and everyone else who cares. So there's a lot of support out there for veterans. Sometimes they may not feel that all the time. But there's people like family members and friends and other veterans, clergy members, coworkers, counselors, dogs, cats. There's so many people that support our veterans in this transition and beyond. And I wanted to say we wanted to bring to light that this is a critical role and the discovery of meaning and purpose for our after military service. Sorry, I'm just getting my words straight here. This session will discuss the roles and experiences of this expanded support system in the transition experience for veterans. Leading our discussion today is Shelby Herrera. Shelby is the Community Engagement Manager for Unite Us in DFW, working to establish social care coordination networks. She attended Texas A&M University College Station to pursue a degree in psychology and is currently in graduate school pursuing her Master's Degree in mental health counseling. So Shelby, I'll hand the mike over to you in just a moment. But joining her onstage once again is Kasey King. And Kasey, in addition to her work as a licensed marriage and family therapist, she is a Navy veteran. I think she told us a lot about that before. And a spouse and I think spouses of veterans have a special place in the support when people are transitioning transitioning out of the military. And I know you've said this. My words want me to repeat it that you are a veteran that retired after 23 years of service and you are. So welcome back to the stage, Kasey. And then a following Kasey. It actually I'll go to welcome her back to one of our seats here on our panel.

Keatra Lee. And I'm sorry if it's a Keatra. This is a 5050 guese, right? And I didn't roll the dice quite right on that one that my apologies. I have one of those last names that people look at and they they try to pronounce it all the ways, but the most simplest way, but it's good, right? Keatra Lee is an entrepreneur and mentored and influential leader, coach, motivational speaker, and the advocate for marriage. Throughout her nearly 23 years of marriage to pastor Victor Lee, she has diligently served alongside her husband with purpose and precision, a soft-spoken woman, but impactful in her community. Our next panel guests will be Phil Hoy.

Come on, Phil. Phil's one of my favorite colleagues here because we sometimes find ourselves Okay, the favorite colleague here. We find ourselves of, I don't want to say in trouble, but we find ourselves joining forces often to meet the needs of our veterans and our military connected. Phil is a retired US Coast Guard veteran. He earned his Masters of Science and administration and management and an MBA. In 2013, he joined Dallas College, where he serves as a director in the Dallas College Military and Veterans Compliance office and has spearheaded the development of the Dallas College Military and Veterans Employee Resource Group. And this is something we're all proud of and we're really excited. This has been able to do this for us. And our last panel speaker today, Dr. Robin Booth, if you would make your way up. Dr. Booth is a Chaplain and a Certified Educator with the Association of Clinical pastoral Education with the VA North Texas Health Care System. He has an ordained minister with the Alliance of the Baptist Churches, USA, and has had numerous leadership positions within the ACPE organization. So now I'm going to turn this microphone over to Shelby. Shelby will take it from here and I will see you back in a few minutes. Hello everyone. I'm really excited to be here and moderate this awesome conversation with these amazing panelists. So I think to open up the conversation, I love to do around with each one of you. to open up and talk about what your most impactful lesson you've had an aiding veterans or supporting the veterans in your life has been along your journey. So if you want to go ahead and start us off, Kasey. I think the most impactful lesson, to be honest, it's just listen. I think sometime we wanted to offer suggestions and offer support and just stay a lot of things, but I know what you need even as a spouse. I know you need. You may need to go do this and go do that. And sometimes I think I've learned that it's really just listen and listen to what, listened to what they need, and listen to how they feel. And sometimes that can be very hard when you, when you want to help. And you're thinking in your mind way that you can help and not listening from them in a way that they just need you to help. And sometimes it's really just the kind of hone in and listen to them and what their needs are. Sitting with that peace is saying, I'm just going to listen in. Its hard But yeah. Just listen. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing Keatra, would you like to go next? So in my experience of 23 years, I met my husband after he exited the military. But what I've learned is to study him. And I know now my role as a wife as a veteran spouse, that what piggybacking on what Kasey said to sometimes just listen. I've always had I've always been mouthy. And so it's my first instinct to clap back and not to be aware of just, girl just be quiet. Sometimes. I had to learn that unfortunately the hard way. But I did learn because it caused a lot of riff in my marriage because it wasn't what he needed. He didn't ask for my advice. He just made a statement and put something out there and I just gravitate it to grabbed hold and just gave him my opinion all the time. That's not what he needed. Sometimes he just needed me to just listen, just being ear. Then my spirituality tells me, okay. Just go pray.

And so I find myself most times now not giving a response, but just going to pray about it first. And that's gotten me. That's gotten me pretty far. Yeah. So you can create that silence to really be able to listen and be present, yes. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Robi,. would you like to go next? I think I've been touched by many, many veterans. Over, I've worked with the VA for the past ten years. I am always surprised by their resilience and their ability to move forward. Even with such carrying the wounds of this nation. And that's what I feel like they really do, is that they carry the wounds of protecting our nation and serving this great nation of ours. And so I'm very appreciative of that. I had been moved to tears often when I hear the stories that they have to say.

And in the situations in which they have been put in and asked to do things that none of us would ever be asked to do. And then they just, they suffer the wounds of those of those experiences. So to here of their resilience to hear of having faith in the midst of all of that. And the community that binds them together as veterans. And we see that often at the VA, Veterans come to the VA just to spend time with one another. And so it's very powerful to see that. Very powerful to see them working together in a group to find healing and wholeness. Yeah, co making sure that you're seeing them for who they are in all their experiences, their wholeness, and just making sure that we continue to uplift community. Yeah, that's very powerful. Phill would you like to go next? Well, yeah, and I'm going to jump back on the initial theme started is listening. So when I got out, I was looking for a job and I came to Dallas College and I immediately got into Veteran Services. And there's a lot going on and there's a lot of students and a lot of that. So I'm just getting them through the office, you know, and I had a vet break down. And he said, You're not listening to me. You're not taking time. I waited all this time to get here in front of you and you're not slowing down for me. And it was very powerful because he was I'd been in for 20 years, he'd been in for four, you know, I had this, I had to power he had none, for him to say that to me and to basically stop me in my tracks and change my trajectory of how I treated people walking into my office. And I was trying to do a great service. I was really trying to teach or teach every vet really, you know, here this is what you gotta do it. But didn't take the time to listen after that, I started doing that. And it was so much more powerful for me to be effective, so much better for them. Treat them like a person, know what they were going through. And I still didn't get them the benefits they needed. I got them to our processes so they can succeed. and they knew they could come back and didn't feel alone. Break that isolation. Yeah.

So sometimes talking about that that urgency to help and our knee-jerk reaction to want to help immediately, want to resolve things immediately sometimes doesn't really help us see them as human and I really dehumanizes them, right? Yeah. I think that's the pattern I'm, I'm hearing from all your experiences. Being able to see them as human. Listen and pause. And I think you've talked about that earlier, Kasey, just like being intentional with that space of stopping and really listening and taking in where they're at. So now I'm gonna go ahead and ask you each individual questions about your particular experience. And then at the end, I'm going to come back and ask just a general question for all of the y'all again. So I'll go ahead and start again with you, Kasey. Is there something that you've particularly learned in your experience that would be the best support psychologically for veterans or even just as a spouse like what what have you learned there.

Therapy. And not just, we talked about EMDR also mentioned brainspotting is great to look into that too. And not just what a service member, but also for the spouse because we're going through this transition too. And I think a lot of people don't take time to understand what we go through. And again, I've had someone, this is one of my stories so it's going to be quick. It's the ones that we used to moving so much. My daughter asked when we moved here. All we moving again? She's 12 because she's been through the four schools in four years and four different states. And in all of those things. So therapy, or just sitting with people. Again, finding your people whose life experiences a little bit like yours. That's one thing I did when I moved here. I have a mentor that's a therapist and she is a spouse and her husband just retired last year and I took her last year and hung on, ask all the questions I needed to ask. I have another lady here in about an hour away, husband just retired, same thing. So I think one therapy, I think it's very important to process because they are some things that you don't want to take to your spouse. And I've explained that to him sometimes he's just really not going to bring that to you because, that's their job to worry and don't want to bring their worry and stress on to you. So I'm very much an advocate for just finding someone that will sit there with you that will listen. And that can be a therapist, that can be a pastor, that can be one of your battle buddies or something like that. But also for a spouse just still finding those people that can support you too, I think is very important. And how would you best suggest somebody go about finding a therapist that is good for them? Yeah, it is. And is not a one size fit all. I say be very specific. First understand what you're looking for therapists for. Are you looking for therapists for grief? Because even though you're leaving the military is still a source of grief. It's a life that you known and you're going through that process of what that looks like after are you looking for someone to help you through transition? Are you looking for someone as you feel like you're depressed or you're struggling or you're overly anxious and things like that. So I would say first, figure out what are you looking for therapists for? What is your various specific need? Because not all of them will be able to help you with that. I have people come and say, Hey, I'm going to shuffle you on over here because that's not my thing. So I always say I'd just tell somebody this, find someone that offers those 15-minute free consultations. It's kind of like going to the store and trying on the shoe, don't like that one. And so I'm not paying and sitting with someone that I don't trust, that I don't connect the with. So this take your time and be okay. I know that healing is a journey. And so, spend as much time as you can interviewing these people because these are the people that you're saying. Okay. I'll trust you to help me through my healing. I would say to spend time and there's so many databases on that. And the VA has networks. I know they have networks and counselors here. But again, to be very specific in what you're looking for so you can find someone to help you through that, but just don't give up on that journey. Yeah, and there is no shame in changing therapists as many times as you need. Yeah. No shame at all. Thank you so much for sharing that. So the next question is for Keartra, have you noticed any shifts in need for ministry for veterans? As time has gone by? I haven't noticed any shifts in the need for ministry and the work that you're doing with your husband. Absolutely.

There's always ministry for veterans and people in period, people period. Kasey mentioned grief. Grief takes on so many different phases. We normally think about grief when somebody dies. But as you stated, grief can be your exiting. You're leaving the military. You what you know, you're leaving going into the military or you're leaving the military going back home or the different phases of grief and just being there to support. I do a lot of research, to help. When, whenever someone comes and asks a question, I want to be found with an answer. So if I don t know, I'm gonna go and find out same from my husband.

How I support him is just encouragement as I would do anybody in ministry who was ever in need of of whatever emotional support, financial support, whatever that need is. I'm just going to try to find a solution for it. Thank you so much Keatra. Is there anything that you would suggest for folks that are looking to connect with the ministry to either serve or even just get that help. It's kinda like that. Example.

The shoe looking for a shoe, um, every size isn't fit everybody. So it's about getting out there, finding whatever ministry suits you. If you feel at home somewhere, then that may be home.

That's powerful. Thank you. The next question is, for Robin. Tell us more about your experience supporting veterans and in your various roles that you've had. Is there anything that you'd like people to know about that.

Great question? I would want folks to know that making that transition from the military to civilian life, it's very, very difficult. And it's like going into another culture and learning another language and trying to find your way through from a very structured place to a very unstructured place. And so those are aspects that I think many veterans have a really difficult time with this, that transition. It doesn't only impact the veteran, it impacts their family, it impacts their community. And oftentimes they feel like an outsider. And so they are seeking a place in which they will fit. A place in which they can find support and community, loving and care. And many, many times, they have to go through this process before they can really find those places of community. So getting them connected with places for support. They can do that through the VA. They can do that in many other communities. Finding places in which they can connect with individuals and can serve in other ways as also very important for them. They had a real purpose and meaning in life. When they were in the military, when they leave, they have to figure that out. And they had to figure out how to be a good spouse. They have to figure out how to be parents again.

They have to be, they have seen so much and experienced so much that even within their family systems they, they feel very alienated. And then if they go back into a large community of faith, they may have a real struggles with large crowds, may have a real struggle with loud noises, all of this kind of stuff. So finding those communities in which they can, I'm being braced for who they are, what they've experienced, being able to share their stories and have somebody who is not ready to fix them, but to sit with them and to be with them as they make this transition. And it really is a transition of grief. Yeah, so practicing that patience and really accepting the fact that it's a journey and it's going to take however long it's going to take for them and we're gonna be with them regardless of what that looks like and having that unconditional support for them. It's battle buddy. They're looking for a battle buddy. And folks who will be there to support. Thank you for sharing Robin. So the next question is for Phil. So as a retired US Coast Guard veteran, How is your transition back and what did you find to be the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it? I think the panel this morning, as well as the panel here that's speaking, really gave us some great insights into that transition. There's so many of those big things that happen. But there's so many little things. I was in for 20 years, which means one day I went in and somebody said where are these close? It's over 20 years. I wore those close 20 years and a day later, I had to wear different clothes and I didn't know how.

I really didn't. My wife would put in my closet these pants and a shirt like your Garanimals, That's what I would call him a little Garanimals. So I could go on a job interview. I did not know, as silly as it sounds, that I could wear brown shoes with blue pants. We were Black shoes, with blue pants. That was it. That was the rule. I found. I could walk on the grass. I did not walk on the grass for 20 years. And it would seem odd to other people. Why are you doing these little things? And I had to break these little habits. There's the big ones I need to go into counseling in. And I loved the fact that this is available. But all these little things. I didn't know about insurance. My wife's looking at me like I had a second head. Like what do you mean you're a grown man? You don't know what insurance is. Well, what did you do? I went to the corpsman and he gave me Motrin and sent me back and said rub some dirt on it like somebody in the panel said this morning, You're fine. Walk it off. Okay.

You just don't know these things and you don't know, you don't know until you get out. And now all these little things are sort of adding up. You know, you've lost your identity for me. That was who I was, my job everything. I went from being on call on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It doesn't matter on vacation or whatever. You're getting a call about somebody who did something they weren't supposed to do. And you gotta go and take care of that or respond to that. You never relaxed. It felt like for 20 years. And so all those things you teach yourself and you learn about yourself, and it's different. And then my wife also was not with me in the military. We joined afterwards and for her to then be learning things. Why I was neurotically closing every single door. I walked by making sure it was locked and secured.

I don't do that anymore. Now, it bothers her that their left open and flapping and I just don't care. So I think that was the hardest part was just all those little things that add up that I was different from other people and what I was doing. And then I would look for the people not walking on the grass and I would look for these people and I could see him and we'd sit next to each other in class and share some stories and find that camaraderie again. So finding that comraderie with other folks and talking about it is what helped you start making the transition and normalizing? It does, Yeah. Because then you can laugh about it. We can laugh about it today, like and we can walk on the grass hopefully.

It does help bring I say okay, I can do these other things. Yeah, thanks for sharing. Phil.

The last question I have for everybody is to close what would be something that you'd say to veterans and the loved ones of veterans that are undergoing transition right now. What would you say to them? Just words of encouragement or anything that your heart brings you to share? First, I wanted to tell Phil I still tell my kids don't walk on grass. You don't get of that grass.

So disrespectful. Do not say about our grass. I would, I would say just support and patients. It's such a transition. And we want our spouses to be normal as our normal and they're normal is so different. So wherever they are, be patient with them and their process. And I would strongly encourage spouses as they're going through things and then I sharing those things which you please don't go trying to dump all of your stuff on them. So find your support too and don't dump all down on them because they're going through so much more than they're telling you. And ask them, Hey, what do you need from me? How can I help them? When they say nothing and leave him alone. Leave them alone. Because sometimes they need to figure things out and sort things out for their self. And so that's just my biggest thing. My takeaway, just be okay with the process. Understand that it's a process. Like I told y'all earlier, my husband hasn't shaved. Then I'm like, yon know i'm like that's his way of trying to trying to acclimate. That's his way of going through things. And so I'm letting him does go through those processes and go through those stages. And if it's something about that, maybe frustrating me and it's a personal thing. I don't take that to him. I may take that to someone else who has experience, that I'm noticing the things I'm feeling this way. What are your thoughts? You know, so b e patient and find your, find your support, I think is very important and understand that their normal is so much different than your normal. And don't rush them to know to get to that normal because it's gonna be a while. Yeah. So practicing continuing to practice that patience with them and not underestimating what they're going through and being okay with them not being okay. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Keatra, would you like to go next. So first of all, I want to say thank you all for your service. This was such an eye-opener for me because I even though my dad was military, I didn't grow up with him, so to speak. My brother was military and I'm married to a veteran. But I've learned stuff today that I didn't realize or maybe I took for granted, or just didn't know the amount of mind-boggling things that military veterans or those that are still connected to the military that they go through. I've taken those things for granted. So babe, I appreciate you. And let me say I'm sorry, right now. Everything that I say that I didn't mean, just kidding. But seriously, I'm that person that I will. We are we are best friends. And so even now, even though he's been separated from the military for many, many years, I still learned today that those things still are a part of him because he was there. He's seen things and heard things that I can't imagine myself being there and seeing those things and doing those things and being in those places. And so I just really, really, really want to say, I appreciate you all for your service. I am so sorry that I have taken it for granted for all these many years. But encouragement, again, it's very big. I can't stress that enough. Even though I may be a pain in the butt sometimes a lot of times I do I do believe my husband would agree that I'm one of his biggest supporters and encouragers. And so finding that person that's going to, that you can connect with and encourage you. Even at your lowest point. That's so important because you need that. You're leaving a place that has been home to you for however many years you've been there. And so staying connected are getting connected or finding your person. Even if you don't want to health-wise, find a person that will support you no matter what. I think, I think the transition will be good. Yeah, relying on that community and continuing to express that appreciation for their resilience, their strength, and their ongoing commitment to healing? Yes.

Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Then I'll bounce over to Robin. Well, if I were speaking to a veteran, first of all, I would say thank you for your service because I do really appreciate the service that they have offered. I would also say this is going to take a while. So be tender with yourself, gentle with yourself. Know that this is not going to happen overnight. I would also say you don't have to do this by yourself. That there are people who are can be there to support you, to help you through that. And you just need to find those folks who can hear your stories and not try to fix you. And then I would say to rely on that inner source that you have within you, that all of us have within us, whether it's faith or whether it's values. To hold on to that during the really tough times, because that is what's going to get you through. Remember your ancestors and how they move through much in much of difficulties and struggles. And so they are gonna be there to stand with you as well as those servicemen who you left behind on the battlefield. They're gonna be there with you to.

So remember that you always carry that inner strength no matter what situation surround you, what you're feeling. You carry that in you and sometimes you just need somebody to remind you it's there. Thank you for sharing that. Then last but not least, Phil if you'd like to go ahead and answer the question. I think there's a few pieces of advice I would give. One of the panel members this morning brought up enter to serve as a boy and I came out a man basically, and I've heard that before. And you need to internalize that. You are not who you were when you joined the service. You're not going to be who you were, so don't have those expectations. I barely graduated high school. Not because I didn't have the intelligence, because I just didn't care about school. I got our of the service I went back to school, got to graduate degrees with straight A's, because I'm a different person. And so a lot of vets that I talked to come into school. I'm like, you're not that person who did not do well in school, who has a mindset of I'm not good academically, maybe you are now. Give yourself permission to grow encomass, those skills that you did learn and put them to good use. Give yourself a break. Okay. It is hard it's hard for everybody coming out of the service. Whether you were in for six months or 30 years, there's gonna be struggles is going to be different. Find, some people who can help. There's lots of help out there. Go find that help.

Go find that help. That's best for you. Find the shoe that fits. Because it's not gonna be the same. And lastly, I would say, We all need help with math. If you're going back to school, you've been out of school for awhile. Take that remedial math. Too many vets, they fight it well, I took algebra in high school, yeah, that was 20 years ago. Just go back and learn your math again. The rest will be fine. Thank you, Phil. So with that, we're wrapping up our panel. But I also wanted to take a second to say thank you for your service and the resilience that you continue to display on a daily basis. And thank you to the panelists for being vulnerable and honest with your experiences and sharing those words of affirmation. Because we need to talk about it more, right? So with that being said, this is the end of our second panel, but please stay in the room or stay on the live stream for the last panel, which will be on tactics, tools and tips to thriving that will be beginning at 1:45, probably so. Thank you all so much for having me as your moderator and for your attention today.

Panel Discussion 3: Tactics, Tools, and Tips to Thriving

Alright, everybody, thank you so much to all of our panel members real quick. I just would like to say that they are extremely, extremely vulnerable today. I mean, just coming up here, being a part of a panel is already in itself a thing. But to be live streamed to several different states that we are actually streaming to different campuses. So we want to give a shout out to all of our people on our panel is Alejandro Sosa, Victor Lee. Mr. Victor Lee, thank you so much, sir. DeVante Valmont, Cindi Scibelli, Darrin Cook. Ms. Kasey King. Ma'am you are amazing. Thank you so much for your time today. You have such a great, encouraging word for us. Ms. Keatra Lee. Ma'am, Thank you so much. What you said really was resounded with my heart today. Thank you very much. Philip Hoy, we always love you, sir. Chaplain Robin Booth, James Atkins, Ginger Simonson, Chaplain Robert Renix and Darrin Cook here in our last, our last panel. I'd like to give another shout out just real quick in case somebody forgot. Our breakfast for our vendors today was brought to you by Ms. Camila and Clay, please check her out. I am actually supporting her earrings today. She makes stuff that's very patriotic as well. So go support her because she supports our veterans. And thank you guys again for being here today. We hope you're enjoying your afternoon and please don't forget there's beverages and everything in the next room over and we hope you enjoyed your lunch today. Here we are on to our next panel. Thank you so much. Well, hello again. I'm glad to see you all still with us and out there and the watch land. I'm glad you all are here too. I do want to take a moment to add something that I neglected to say before. Dallas College offers mental health counseling to all students, particularly our veterans and military-connected. We have specialists, we have people that are trained to help with all sorts of things and it's free of charge and totally confidential. So I did want to do that. You can look at us online with webpage. We're Dallas College Counseling and Psychological Services. So shout out to the rest of my colleagues that are standing in watch parties, or are covering counseling centers so that we can do what we do today. So thank you all very much. This next this next session, we're going to focus on observations and practical experiences veteran service providers in the field of helping veterans re-frame their mindset to life as a civilian. The practice of increasing awareness of one's mental and physical state in order to excel in other areas of life. This session will emphasize on the focus on increasing awareness of one's mental and physical state so that they can excel in all of those other areas and be relaxed and confident, and be becoming themselves along that transitional way. The idea that the new mission can only be fulfilled if they are as diligent about tapping into their relationships and their passions and finding resolve with aspects of their past that contribute to the emotional heaviness that some of them, some of them bring with them out of the military. Leading our discussion today will be Shelley Craig. Shelley is the program director at Faith and Grief, a grief support non-profit that offers programs and partnerships with local organizations and online. Shelley is a charter member of the Suicide Prevention and Brain Health Rotary Club. Rotary eClub. She has a master's degree in educational technology and is a certified grief educator. Joining her onstage will be James Atkins. Jim, can you come forward? I'll, catch him here in a minute. He was here just a moment ago, but we'll come back to Jim. Ginger Simonson. Ginger is a Veterans Advocate and Peer Support Specialist in Denton County. She has worked with military service members, veterans, and their family members for all of her adult life. Ginger has extensive direct experiences and training and the most pressing issues that face transitioning military service members and veterans with a combat trauma or military sexual trauma. And also I will plug Ginger does a wonderful workshop.

She speaks on grief and loss, where it comes in, for our veterans because there is that loss that they have. And so she also does wonders. She's always supporting it. Ginger and I met several years ago, and I'm glad that she's here today. Our next panelist will be Chaplain Robert Renix. Chaplain, Reverend, and US Army veteran. In September 2014, Chaplin Renix became the first African-American to serve as director of Chaplain Services at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington D.C. In July of this year, he is relocating to Dallas, Texas to join the North Texas VA Health Care System's Chaplain Service. He holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Memphis, Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, and Doctors of Ministry in Educational Leadership from the Virginia Theological Seminary. If he would like to come on up, we have your space. Okay, Hi Jim. We found you, you can't escape us. We found you.

So welcome Jim Atkins to our panelists. And Jim is a clinical social worker at the VA Hospital here in North Texas. He has been a partner with us in prior years of planning for this event, and we're glad to have him join us this time as a panelists. And thank you for all that you do for our service members and veterans. One I have one more that I do want to. Darrin Cook.

Darrin Cook is a Peer Specialist at the Military Veteran Peer Network. And many people don't know about the Veteran Peer Network, but they are a network of veterans who are there for other veterans. It makes me choke up.

When they need somebody. And oftentimes it's these veteran peers that are able to connect with a veteran and get them to come to counseling or get them to seek services, or even get them to go back to the VA for those benefits that they so duely deserve. And so we think the Veterans Peer Specialists, Darrin Cook. And the last member of this panelist is me. Again, I'll put a little bit of hat. I'll tell you just a teeny bit about me. I grew up with no military experience. My family wasn't military and it was just different. I my first husband was from a very military family in the Army in El Paso and went to the he had medical discharged from the Army when he tried to join. And then my present husband of 39 years, amazingly, that it's that long. It seems nowhere near that long. But my husband is a Vietnam veteran and he is one Vietnam veteran that took about 25 years for anyone to understand what was going on. So with the last panel, I just wanted to say if you're married or you're supporting a military veteran that's seen combat or hasn't, they've just been in the military. If you're seeing anger, if you're seeing sadness, if you're seeing isolation, if you're seeing any of these things, please. Please try to help them get help, because it can change their lives. So, thank you very much. I appreciate the time and I'm going to turn it over to Shelley. Thank you so much. Much like everyone who's been here this morning. I want to thank you for your service. You are what it means as far as sacrifice and understanding what it means to give. I want to thank our panelists here this afternoon. Thank you for sharing your expertise, experience, and gifts with those here on the broadcast and around the campuses as well. I was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. So guess what? My dad's a Marine. So I grew up with a military father and yes, I struggled to step on the grass for a very long time. Our group earlier was talking about how long it took them to step on the grass. There are certain rules when you grow up in a military household that are unspoken. But you understand my father also was really good about making sure that we were three steps away from the television, at all times. So we knew exactly how far that was. I know that sounds silly, but it was knowing what it feels like to be on the other side of the transitions that we've talked about today is really what I think our panels here to talk about as well. And managing these transitions. There's certainly grief involved in those transitions. But I think we've heard over and over again today. You're kind of stepping out of one life into another. It is very much like leaving one world and entering another world where maybe you don't speak the language or you don't understand the social cues and things like that. Because in the military were given a lot of that, many times. So I'm just going to go down the panel. I'm going to start at the end there, Ginger and work our way down. In your own experience, what have been some of the most helpful tools or tactics as we're talking about in managing that transition from military life into civilian life. Thanks for the question. I think for me as a woman veteran who joined in 1980 and got out in 2005. I spanned a few decades of a different culture. So I went into this man's army, was frequently told that the women do not belong in the army.

And that's okay. Because then you try harder, right? You have to be better than the guys. So that was good, made me stronger. But what I did not realize through that whole experience of 24 years in was that I totally lost connection with my emotions, with my feelings. You know, we're not allowed to express those. And so I happened to run into a group, Grace After Fire. Some of you may have heard of them. They work exclusively with women veterans. And basically they had me do a little test on emotional intelligence. And I will tell you I was below the bottom of the scale. So learning about exactly how the military changed me was extremely important to see how I could now fit in into the civil society that I rejoined. Thank you. We are just going to come on down the line here. Umm.

That's a...Oooo, that's a lot. What would have been helpful? I think one of the things that's helpful is community. Community.

The sooner you can get a veteran to the VA hospital or back to the base. Two to engage in the community that's there. The safer. I know I was a veteran, so I know this, I'm a veteran. The safer we feel.

Because there's a huge transition from the military to civilian life. There's structure, there's order. There's mission.

So things, things make sense after a while. And then you get out and they don't make sense. You don't understand why people don't do things like pick up trash off grass. People, throw butts on it. You know, smoke there you like, what are you doing? I still don't walk on the grass. I mean, if I do, I'm having that moment, where I'm just not thinking about it, but if I sit and think about it, I'm going to cut that corner and it's going to be 90, sharp. So I think as soon as you can get a veteran to the VA Hospital for because there's a camaraderie even after years later, I still feel the safest at the VA Hospital and on anybody's base.

Any post, any military. And it doesn't matter what the military because we are all brothers and sisters. And that's that's just that's the family camaraderie that never goes away. But I think as soon as, the sooner we can get connected, then it will help to minimize what becomes isolation. Because then that becomes one of our biggest enemies. Family and community is more than just blood. Our families, sometimes we get to choose them, sometimes we don't. But leaning on that family and bringing them in is always important. Yes. Jim, I'm not a veteran, but I've certainly worked with a lot of veterans and seeing that the, the challenge of that transition from military life to civilian life. Several observations.

One is, I think early on veterans need to get into therapy, need to address depression, the PTSD. Need to dress their grief over the loss of not being in the military. And another part of that is their survival needs. As a social worker, I look at the whole person. I can do therapy with them all day long. But if they don't have a job and money and if they can't pay rent and their wives or girlfriends looking at them and they have children, their survival needs to be looked at and we need to make some moves to help them get the job. And that's another important piece. They begin to get therapy and get stabilized. The family gets more stabilized and they may need family therapy too, and they have money to live on. Then we start looking at that DNA need of theirs to be able to connect with other veterans. As we've kind of discussed today, that need is very great. You have a group of men that are gathered for a period of time and they survived. Their emotional, physical, and psychological survival depends on, it, depends on each other. And they have this mission, it's been seared into their brain. Well, as veterans leave, they lost that mission. They've lost that DNA drive to be connected to other veterans. So it's helping them get connected to other veterans. Now we have so many different resources for that at the VA. There's so many non-profits. We try to look at what veterans interests are. If they're interested in dogs. We help them get connected with veterans that love dogs. If they like to ride motorcycles, there's a group that does that. They like to do horses, we have a group that does that. Helping them get connected to other veterans. And a lot of times it starts with psychotherapy, it starts with group therapy. We see some of our strongest bonds with veterans, especially combat veterans, because combat veterans want to be with combat veterans because they need to talk about moral injury. They need to talk about having to have taken people's lives in a different way than veterans that haven't. And so getting them connected in therapy, they start those bonds and as they kind of improve in therapy, then we get them connected in the community with veteran service organization with veterans to meet that need that they have. Thank you, Jim. Well, I can only really speak for myself. I joined in '88 right after high school and I served back to duty Navy until '97. When I got out of service, my wife at the time realized how much I missed it. So she said, Why don't you just go ahead and join the National Guard because they never deploy anywhere. So I joined the National Guard. And then someone ran airplanes in the World Trade Center. And I found myself 11 months in Baghdad. So I got out and '88. One of the things that I wish someone would have told me back in '97 was you have earned those benefits, go to the VA.

No, you're not broken like you think some of the other guys are, but you still need the help. Go. I wish someone would have driven me there and made me do it. I didn't go to the VA and start getting help until 2011.

Long time to hurt. Get them help. That's the main thing I can tell you. Get them help. get them to someone they can talk to.

I'm a peer support specialist and my job is to... I also work with the Veterans Treatment Courts. So I worked with veterans that have found themselves on the wrong side of the law trying to... My job is not to tell him what they did wrong or how to do their life. My job is to try to help them make different choices. Lead them to those decision-making skills of making the right choice, and the reasons why.

I don't tell them what to do. I'm more of a sounding board. I'm feeling this okay. And let them walk through those feelings, let them sound those feelings out and come to the correct conclusion on their own. That's what my main job is, is to listen and don't judge them. So yeah, like I said, the main thing I would say, I wish someone would have done for me. would make me go, make me go get help. What in your experience, have you seen both here on campus? Because I think that's something that's a little bit different perspective for the folks that you help here. Would have you observed so far? That's been helpful.

Yes, oh my gosh. You're on the panel too. Again. I think, I think there's a camaraderie and I think having space for veterans and having respect for veterans is very, very important. I as a spouse that lives with someone who still lives with the impact of his service. I think we have to remember that veterans come in all shapes and sizes and they come from all temperaments. And I think just having that respect is amazing on campus for them. We worked with some veterans that won't go to the VA, but that doesn't mean they can't get help. And so it might take them a while to go to the VA to get the really good help that they need. But if you if you're a faculty, if you're professional support staff, or if you're an administrator, look to your right and left because there are at least I think I heard today 60 or more employees. That means there's a ton more spouses. And then all of our students, so our veterans are all around us. And just remember when someone does something or says something that you go, just take back and think, they're a veteran. We don't know. We haven't walked in their shoes. Yeah, we so many times associate the words bravery and courage with the military and feats that are just so amazing both on the battlefield and outside when they're being deployed. But how important is it in the transition time as a military person to give yourself permission to ask for help. I think, I think that's one of the hardest obstacles for any military person to do is say, I need help. Because they'd been taught to rely on themselves to get out of any situation. Yeah. You may not always have the support that you would like to have. I don't know how many times I've found just me and my four guys in a building by ourselves having to deal with whatever we had to deal with. Even though there was a squad next door on either side, they're dealing with what they're dealing with. So asking for help is not always an option. It's very rarely an option. You're expected to. You're given your mission, you're expected to handle your mission, not asked for help if you need it. If we needed to send someone else to do it, we would have sent someone else to do it. So getting over that mentality of get it done, don't ask for help. Just figured out, is hard. That's what kept me from going in.

No, I got this. I can handle this.

I can, I can do it. Then I found myself at a spot where I can't. So I think that's the hardest thing is to reach out for help. So that's the one thing that I encourage anybody that I worked with. Ask for help. Ask for help. It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you not strong. It, it's what you need. It's the only way you're going to get the help is to ask for it. If I could jump in on that.

I've got a slightly nuanced view of the help question. And that is, you can't ask for help if you don't know that there's anything wrong. And so I got out and I had no clue that there might not there might be something going on from my experiences in Iraq or another high threat areas. Didn't know until people started to say, boy, you're really angry, or that anger started to turn into rage. So sometimes you just have to become familiar with the fact that you do have a problem. I found out because I guess stepped into being a Peer Support Specialist, accidentally in a way. And I realized I needed to get training. So I went to a lot of different seminars, heard a lot of VA psychiatrists and psychologists speak. Heard other military veterans speak. And they talked about, and this is probably back in 2010, I guess who so, they would talk about hypervigilance and they talk about irritability and all these things. And I'd start to in my head just check off the list and say, I got that. I got that.

So I, you know couldn't ask for help because I didn't know. And so just to change it, you know, about asking for help. It's more like remembering, we were teammates too, we're a team people, battle buddies in the military. And so we need to reach out to each other when we see something that that other veteran can't see. I want...several things going through my mind. One, when you talked about bravery in the military and serving bravery is going over and doing what needs to be done. Then you get out and bravery now all of a sudden becomes looking like being somebody you've never been. So there's a difference between you give them a task. I see the mission as the objective. I know what to do. I take people out the way. You don't have to ask for help because everybody on the team knows. If I fall short here you step in. I don't have to ask you to step in. You know, your role is, I fall short. You fill in the gap. You fall short, I fill in the gap. There's no need to hey, can you can you do this for me tomorrow morning? No, that's not how it works. You don't...the communication is very different. The communication...boom, done. Now get out and you want the bravery looks like, I'm sitting next to Ginger and I'm listening, I'm thinking, as a man you talking about going to do an emotional awareness? That was not going to happen. There wasn't going to happen, because it didn't make sense to me. Because I was never taught to have emotions and feelings and express them. And be all know I had two, one was the f-word and one was fine. That's what I learned as a man. As a little boy. That's what, that's what we get taught. And I'm learning it's cross cultures and races and creeds and religions and economics is crossed everybody. is kind of our culture. But now, so is there is a difference between being brave and doing something. And now you announced to learn how to be brave and be someone. One is outside and the other is you want me to go inside and be brave? And what my bravery and the inside has looked like has been suppression, repression, denial, and move forward. If you feel something, you know what you do? Push-ups.

You gotta feeling, do some sit-ups. You upset, go shoot something, Go target practice, get it together. So there's always an external means to do that. And so now we didn't stop when you come out transition idea of health as a chaplain educator and I was not a chaplain in the military. I was a satellite guy, tactical satellite. But as a chaplain educator what I try, what I'm starting to learn and continuing to learn, because I like being a learner, is, I've moved that word of help because it feels like a crippling work for me, to support. As a military guy, I can support all day long. Get help? I got to struggle with that. And so, so, its know, in a lot of ways it's the same thing. But I think it's easier for ex-, for us military people to help support. You won't go get support?

You won't go get support? Cool. Go get help.

Because now you're telling me I'm broke.

I'm deficient, something's wrong. No, I can't I can't identify with that. There's so many great support groups here today. And if you haven't had a chance to watch all of today, you'll be able to find more resources here. Much of our panel is here in support of some type of veteran service organization, which is helpful and that's a good place to start. But you mentioned earlier and a couple of other sessions. We talked about battle buddies. What is the important role or what's important about having an accountability partner in the transition from military service into civilian life? I was listening when battled buddies came up before and I thought your spouse or your good friend is now your battle buddy. But it takes the veteran to make that switch. It when you start looking at them as that person that is going to go for the rest of it. Because you're not in the military anymore and they're going to become that support, particularly spouses. It's, it is a transition for them as well. And so just like in the military, if you're in combat. I mean, you both. Both people are, several people together. There was a first time they had done that. There was learning how to do it in reality outside of training, our outside of books, outside of education. And so I think having that mindset, that it is up to me, but I have this battle buddy. It's my spouse. And spouses. They're not your enemy. And veterans. Your spouse isn't your enemy no matter how hard they tried to get you to go to the VA because they see something you don't see. But I think that's the most, when you talk about battle buddies, look because you've got one out here somewhere. And if you don't in your own family or in your social network, then come find one of us. Or there's a lot of different kinds of not just us, but there's a lot of different kinds of therapy to it's not all sit down and talk to someone, why they get into your deep dark secret. I think it's about connection to define what's a thread and so why people die by suicide would be lack of connection. So whoever that battle buddy is, if there's that connection, there's a respect, there's a trust. You've got it. And just, I want to go back just one minute. We were talking about the barriers for veternas not going for help. And another one big barrier is this, the concept of mental illness itself. I'm mentally ill if I go get help. As was mentioned.

The other concept is males don't ask for help. We can be angry, but we can't talk and we can't be vulnerable with our emotions. There are two others for veterans that I've noticed over and over again is that veterans want to come in for mental health maybe, but they're afraid. Well, I want to go into law enforcement. Will that keep me from going into law enforcement? Will I be able to re-enlist and we're able to reassure them and tell them, psychiatric issues are like medical issues. They're protected under HIPAA. And there's a man by the name of Major General Mark Graham. He spoke at our VA Suicide Prevention conferences. He lost two of his sons in the Iraq War. One from suicide and one from an IED explosion. The one from suicide took himself off his antidepressant medications because he knew that if he shared that he probably be processed out, he would be marked and he died by suicide. Now, you want to talk about spiritual warfare. The Major General Mark Graham and his wife for years were fly from one VA to another VA, many military bases. And they would talk about changing military culture. You could be a veteran, you could be enlisted and you can have depression. You could talk about it and get help and not be processed out.

Changing culture. It's yeah, it's definitely a process of changing the culture and not just the military culture. Our culture widely, we're still, there is still stigma around mental health. We still see it as a deficiency as opposed to potentially true illness. We wouldn't necessarily have the same reaction if someone came to us and they had cancer than we do if they come and they say, I think I'm depressed. We have this stigma still. It's slowly starting to fade, but it's still there. But in talking to what you mentioned earlier about help and switching that word to support. Because support sounds active. And we talked about about doing sit-ups, made me think of so much of that transition from military life into civilian life is literally changing activity. And vigilant.

And vigilant. You talked about high vigilance you're moving from in-country to outer countries situations. What are some of the like every day things people could do in transitioning from that into the civilian life that feels so very different? Ginger. First, you build on your military strength. So dig deep and look back for those. And so for me, having a high situational awareness and high threat areas is important. And so that's what I tried to convey to fellow veterans. How about deep situational awareness about what's going on inside of you, as well as what's going on outside of you. So if you're starting to feel some biological things like your heart starting to race, you're starting to break out in a cold sweat. There's something going on here. Take a moment.

You know, take a deep breath. Take another deep breath, and realize that it's not something that's happening now that you may be responding to, but something that's deeply buried in a place in your brain that you haven't yet processed. So it just intrudes on you when you least expect it. And so be aware of the physical cues you may get. If I'm angry, I'm going to start gritting my teeth and my neck is going to start to really tense up. So be aware of what's going on inside. So I would tell that to the veteran and then figure out, alright, What can get me down from, from that space? How can I walk myself back to some peace, to some calm? I was sitting here thinking about the skill set and the strengths that is developed and enhanced while in service and it's not. And you say daily, you know, when I think about that, I think about you can exercise. You can get up and actually groom the way you do. You can find yourself a uniform. Because to not have a uniform is like what? I gotta figure out what to wear. I got to figure out what to. I got a coordinate match and do all that. So there's lots of skill sets that we developed in the military that easily translate into life in general and across the board. You know, from exercise to dressing into finding a regimen to doing these different things. The challenge becomes, you have to do it all by yourself. And when I think about that is like, how do you do that? Because you never had to do it that way. Because even getting up, put on your uniform is for you to go get in formation is for you to show up at whereever, mess hall, wherever it is just showing up and there's others like you, you know, even even weekends have uniforms, you know, jeans, shorts. Aint a whole a lot of this, we like ties and all that but, so transitioning, it's easy. There are lots of skills that can be used for daily living. But until you get past that transition period, however long that is. And one of the things I've thought about is this transition period is a grief period, it's the period of mourning. And I say change equals degrees of gain or loss equals grief.

It's huge change. You gain some stuff, you lost some stuff, and he comes a whole lot of grief. I don't know how long it's going to take. What I've learned is that it usually takes at least two years before people can hear. It takes about two years after getting out of service. And I always say if it was in 20 years, Give yourself at least half of that if you was in two years, give yoruself , at least half of that. But that's to try to help the person in front of me give themselves permission to go through a transition process that is not going to be easy. And I tell them straight up, nothing about this is about the easy. Which means you might actually find some stuff easy and be surprised.

If you said an expectations.

Give yourself a chance, give yourself a break. So there's lots of skills, but it's just accessing them. How do I reach these skills? Because i'm I'm at, I'm out. So alcohol becomes a friend. All this other stuff becomes a friend. Isolation becomes a friend in the darkness, becomes a friend. The TV becomes a friend. And these things are now your battle buddies. And not the family and not to your faith, community and not you're... So it's about how you walk, learning to walk with someone through that process and not having an expectation of when that ends. Because honestly, I've been out awhile. It has ended, depending on where I am. I may not want to say about my back to the door. Depending on the day.

Depending on the day. Catch me on the wrong day. I'm like, nope, not happening because something inside of me is triggered. That's why I said, I sometime I can cut across the grass, come my things...sometimes I got to cut a corner. So it's how do you help, how do we be present and be with veterans as they are making that transition and not having an expectation that you've been out five years, you should be all right? Not really.

I don't think you ever I know. I have not. Let me say it that way. Maybe when I get older and change, but I don't know if as a veteran I will ever stop mourning that culture and that life. Piggyback off.

In the military. They teach us a lot of great ways to be a good soldier. They, they, they really do have to be able to push through pain, how to be able to push through anger, how to push through. But they never teach us how to be a good civilian anymore. But things that I've been learning here lately, those same skills that they taught us to get through all those hard times. These are still hard times. You can still use those same skills to learn, to re-channel them into, accepting things, being able to, okay. I have to go to the bank. I don't like going to the bank. So I'm going to do what I had to do when I had to kick in that door. I'm wanna breathe, I'm going to suck it up. I'm going to go do it. The other thing I suggest is find someone that you trust, that you can have that safe space where you can break down and cry if you need to. It's okay. It's okay. Sometimes it's hard to do that in front of family because they're looking at that combat vet that's kicked in thousands of doors and it's hard to break down and cry in front of us. Find that safe space, whether it's a therapist, a battle buddy, wherever, find that safe space that you can break down and just let your emotions out. Coming from a little bit different angle. If you're a veteran and you're in that place and you don't know your purpose and you're trying to find your purpose and you're beginning to isolate and you're beginning to get depressed or anxious.

All this mental health that we're talking about. And you're beginning to see yourself that way. If you don't know what you want to do or what your purpose is, stopped back and think in the world what really, what really evokes emotion from you? Like if you get really mad because people don't care about sustainability in the world. If that's something that you think about, go find a club, go find an organization, donate a little bit of time to that. If you love animals, go help out if one of the animal adoption centers.

Just find something that is a little bit of you and start volunteering in it or start activating, not asking for anything back. But that's one step of volunteering, and you begin to put other people a little bit in front of you. It's going to help you begin to find yourself again. A lot of the veterans I've worked with, they go back to drawing or they go back to playing music, they go back to something that was, I think Kasey, you said it was something that they enjoyed or something that really brings them joy at some point in their life. And so I think there are some practical things that people can do to help relieve that tension and anxiety. I've heard over and over again today in different sessions about that real evolution between the person you were when you went in the military service, and when you came out. Many times, that's not the same person. And though you may have some things that brought you joy before military service. There may be an opportunity to explore new things, things that you found interesting while you were in the military. There are certainly skill sets that are applicable in so many different ways. Obviously, if you're in the military, service important to you. So giving back to your community and giving back to your family, friends, and things like that is important. But how does, how does that, how does that manifest itself? How do we find ways to explore? I mean, I think Dallas College is a beautiful place to come and explore different opportunities to see if I'm interested in a particular career path. But what were some of the things maybe Ginger, you did when you came back to kinda help spark next step. Well, first, I didn't have any grief with leaving my military career. I made the decision to retire because my mother was dying of lung cancer. I felt okay. I've been gone for 20 some odd years. I want to go back and take care of the woman who really made me who I was in my essence. And so I went from one very important purpose to another very important purpose. And what I learned during that was advocacy. I learned that doctors may look at you as just another cog in that wheel that they've got an address and fix. So I've felt empowered to fight for my mother. Whereas maybe as a veteran, I wouldn't have fought for myself. But I was very empowered to help her to address doctors. To second guess, the doctors, that skill set really, really helped when I kinda again fell into peer support. It gave me the desire to go with veterans who are struggling when they went to the VA. Just getting the VA from Denton County down to Dallas on a road where maybe that Trash is holding an IED or oh my god, this guy just cut me off. I want to kill him. Going with somebody, a fellow veteran to the VA sitting next to them and noticing if they were starting to get agitated and just putting a hand on them and trying to redirect the person at the VA who may or may not have any cultural competency or people skills. So I guess that's, you know, I was blessed. I've led a very blessed life and to be able to help my mother and then use and learn those skill sets. In my life as a veterans advocate has just been, I guess, very rewarding and fulfilling. Anybody else have that experience? I know you volunteer a lot in a peer standpoint. What does that mean, meant for you? And all in all honesty, when I started volunteering, that's when I really started my journey of recovery. In all honesty. Being able to share what I learned, what I've learned about myself over the many decades. That's bad, but is that when I was a very young child, I wanted to be in the military. That's all I ever wanted to do. I did it till it wasn't fun anymore, until I couldn't do it anymore. Then I got out and I still found ways to serve. I was in the National Guard, I was a prison guard. I found many different ways to serve and to help the community. And because that's what I like to do, that's, that's who I am, that's my purpose. I feel the most calm and peace when I'm helping. So I use that as part of my my therapy to help me by helping you. So but you got to take time for yourself. You can't volunteer to the point that you burn yourself out. You're burning the candle at both ends. You got to step back, take some time for yourself occasionally, and then go back and help people. It's hard to fill someone's else's cup if ours is empty. or our picture's empty, Absolutely. Yes, Jim, things I found really significant, spiritual and said, you know, I work in suicide prevention. It's a very positive aspect, but there's also a challenging aspect where veterans die by suicide because they do. And so what I've noticed, not only in this level, not only in Dallas, but on the national level, when people are healing from death and suicide from the veteran that's die by suicide when family members are healing, go through therapy, they go through a grief process. But what really helps them to get on the other side of it and have a new normal and have no meaning and purpose to their life is another veterans family member that has died by suicide too. And you just see that how rewarding it is for each, for them and how I refer to them as spiritual warriors. Their lives have changed and they go out of their way to help other people. I think that gives us an opportunity to wrap up now.

Thank you so much panel for sharing your wisdom and your experience with those watching today. Thank you to all the panelists today as well, and to everyone here, a Dallas College for hosting this amazing summit. I want to encourage you, just as we've said before, seek support. Find that battle buddy. Talk to someone. When someone like Ginger said comes up and says, I see you have some anger or around this, believed them. That's sometimes the hardest part, is taking that step forward to get support. And it's so important because we want to support you. We're ready. So thank you. Ya'll, we want to say, thank you again so much to all of our panelists if you give them a round of applause and for our moderators guys, what an amazing afternoon we've had with everyone today. Thank you so much. I just wanted to give you two bits because I wasn't on a panel today and I didn't get to share. But I love hearing everybody's personal experiences and how they can help you in the future. If I may give you $0.02 here. So my husband and I are both Marines. So dual military families is like a bomb just went off after we both got out, right? Because we're very, very tough headed, strong, strong willed people, if I will, and they can share with you that if you are listening and your dual military tells you not to be Marines, Army, Marines, Air Force, whatever it is, you can be mixed dual military spouses, whatever the case may be, you are all holding your own struggles and going through your own battles. And that alone in itself is very, very difficult to transition into a civilian lifestyle when you had to go to work, get a job, go to school. Who who who gets to go to school first? And so my husband and I. We literally took turns transitioning into our roles. And just understand that not everybody, even your spouse, is going to react to certain therapies like you'd think they would. Well, they're going to counseling. They should be good, right? No. It doesn't always mean that and that's okay, right? thats super.... We wanted to say that that is okay. Even if you're in counseling for weeks on end, months on end, you don't have to be okay once you go through counseling. Because I think transitioning my husband and I keep telling him that transitioning for us is probably going to be a lifelong thing, like till the day we leave this earth, right? So that's okay because you always want to change. You always want to grow as people and as a couple, right? But just know that your spouse may not be on the same road as you, and as progressed as you are, right? Because I got out before my husband did. So we're kind of doing switching our roles and letting him take care of his mental health. And I did mine first even though I'm still not every where I would love to be, but I'm definitely not where I was in 2012, 10 years ago. It got out ten years ago this year. And I just want to say thank you to all of our resource folks because without your help and assistance, I don t think I would be able to do what I did today, standing here in front of you guys and just helping other people realize the resources that we have. So take what you have, take the boldness, that bravery, and just walk your life in that and help your fellow veterans in that. Then two last things I'd like to say thank you to our digital solutions e-learning team for what an amazing broadcast we have today. So bravo to you guys. Thank you very, very much. Also to our Cloud Collaborations Virtual Events team. So guys, thank you very much and I'll leave that with you, that token and then hand it over to Dr. Mike Anguiano. Thank you. Well, we've reached the end of our program and in many respects, listening to the conversations. I feel like we're really just getting started conversations. And I think really that's been the point. Is to start conversations, take them back to our families, friends, places of business, organizations, and continue those discussions within your sphere and how can you change, how can you reframe, how, however, that might be used to improve your area. So how can we better understand veterans that are in our area and understand what needs they have and get them to help. So that's really been the point. I told you. I was going to say the all-star panel to the end. These are the people that were a part of the conception of what to do. Who to bring in, everything getting started from putting up the balloons and everything to see last night at seven o'clock just to get it ready for us first thing in the morning. So Karen Cuttill is with our Counseling and Psychological Services. She's one of our key members on this panel and our team. So thank you very much, Karen, Vanessa Durran is doing a lot of our marketing. So any of the flyers and any that stuff that you have working with our marketing team to be able to do that. So Vanessa, thank you very much. Caleb Martin was involved in getting all of our organizations coordinated and here. And instead of doing some of the other things that you might have as opportunities within the community. You here with us. We thank you very much and thank Caleb for being a part of that. Let's give him a round of .. He's probably still helping everybody get wrapped up out there. One of our other members that we had with us. You may be familiar with the military skill bridge, where you have active service members that take about six months of their time to kind of transition out. And we have one of those interns with us today who is helping us put on this program, uses an active duty Marine who's on his Skill Bridge with Dallas College. He served as an intern for several of our department in areas. So he's already had to leave, take care of family stuff. So that's kinda the benefit that you have is when you're not in the military get a little more flexibility in latitude with your schedule and stuff. So I wanted to thank him and Dallas College for hosting Skill Bridge to be able to have that as part of us. So thank you for for him and for Dallas College for allowing us to have that. One of the ways that I've really context this whole purpose of coming together. That many colleges, in particular at some other organizations find it really difficult to define what makes them military-friendly. It's more than just being able to process the benefit. And that's really what a lot of organizations, probably as long as we do that then we're good. I think for those of us that are veterans. And we're very grateful that Dallas College has so many veterans that are in positions like this that knows that, no it takes a little bit more. And so having programs like this, having you join us, we've had nearly a 100 people join us online and have been logged into this entire time. So while we haven't had hundreds here, there are many more outside that are doing it. So from my perspective, we need to understand the experiences of veterans more of and you guys have all helped us be able to do that today. Want to thank you all for the time that you've given and hopefully you enjoy the rest of your day and weekend. Thank you all for being here.

Resource Fair Exhibitors with Melawn Dineen

Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Melawn Dineen, I'm a Program Lead at Veteran and Military Services here at Dallas College. Thank you so much for joining us for the VA 2022 Mental Health Summit. We appreciate you joining us here today. Whether you're at your desk, you are at a watch party, or you're at the VA medical centers for our watch parties. We really appreciate you, but thank you so much to all of our attendees here at Richland College. Richland Campus here for Dallas College. So I just wanted to begin this afternoon off while you guys are getting your lunch boxes or you're getting lunch at your desk, would just want to say a couple of shout outs for thank you. We wanted to give a round of applause for our wonderful panelists that I've been on panel one, We know that it is not very easy to come out and talk about your experiences and how vulnerable and how raw it really has become here on our panel. We wanted to say thank you to all of our panelists. And Ms. Kasey King, ma'am, thank you so much for such an impactful and encouraging statement and purpose. We really appreciate your time today. Thank you, and bravo to you. Bravo to all of our people attending our watch parties. We would like to say a big thanks to the Dallas VA Medical Center with Dr. Rodney Teague and Ms. Zahara Williams. Thank you guys so much for joining us and being supportive through this entire process. Let's hear it for our Brookhaven campus, our program leads there are Martell Williams and Shaniqua Austin.

Cedar Valley campus is Deandrea Montague and Ismael Aleman.

Guys, you can throw parties for yourself. Just throw a little pom pom in there and say that you guys are representing for Dallas College.

At El Centro campus we have Ms. Joan Long. Thank you guys so much for attending our watch party there.

And my home campus, Eastfield campus with Jackie Shorter. You guys throw a party and say thank you for coming. Thank you. Thank you. Also three cheers for our North Lake campus with Vanessa Duran and Maribel Cruz. Alright, and now for our Mountain View campus, give it up for our leads, their Quinton Houston and the Dr. Mike Anguiano. He is amazing. He's done such a great job putting all this together. So thank you for attending these watch parties. And last but not least, we'd like to recognize our campus here at Richland with Caleb Martin and Billy Yost. You all give it up here that are eat'in lunch for our Richland campus, okay, for our viewers.

There we go. Alright, I hope you're all throwing mini parties and just getting excited about today. So we're just gonna have a little bit of fun with our vendors here today, we have mental, since it's a mental health summit, we have all of our vendors. They're gonna just kinda give you a snippet of what they do here, what they're doing here today, and what they do off-campus. So first off, I'd like to introduce to you Bob and Barbara Zielinski with Marriage Management. You guys please give them a round of applause.

Alright. Thank you. Thank you for inviting us here today. All right, It's a pleasure, guys. So what we're gonna do is talk to our viewers today and just tell them what it is that Marriage Management, what's your purpose? Normally when we think about veterans mental health, we don't think about the impact of their intimate relationships. And really that's going to be the foundation and the support system for their mental health. So what we do is an eight hour seminar, class, to help them develop the skills that will build a healthy and successful relationship. When I was in the Army, I remember that there was one way to do things. That was it. That didn't work when I got home. Hey honey, say you do it.

Uh-uh...didn't work. So we developed what we call boots-on versus boots-off thinking. We have skills and tools that we share. All of our instructors are veteran couples, so it's a been there done that.

We don't teach or preach, or death by PowerPoint. It's we've been there, we've done that. We've tried these tools and they work. We're striving for a healthy not a perfect relationship. We have an example I'd like to make. We were doing a program in Texas recently. When after the program there was one gentleman who a veteran who sat in the back, a classic symptoms of PTSD. He spent a lot of time, Back to the wall very defensive the whole time. Went on for three days. We figured well, you know, let him alone, he'll get it or he won't. At the end of the seminar, he came up to us in front of 30 of his buddies and said, You saved my life. We looked at him and said, oh no, you did the work. We thought it was a figure of speech. What we didn't know is, he said that he had... He had bought the gun, he had the plan, gotten rid of those possessions, and he was going to take out him and his family. Oh, my goodness. So that gave us the purpose that she was talking about before. We had a passion to do this, but this gave us the purpose. What we didn't know at the time, and we know now is that 30% of military suicides had a failed intimate relationship in the prior 30 days. We tried to keep folks from getting there. So if we stabilize your relationship or giving him a chance to beat the odds. We offer classes all over the state of Texas. We have a schedule outside that you can get.

Our local classes we have one this Saturday the 24th in Arlington.

October 29th at NAS JRB. That one will have child care but you need base access. And November 5th here in Addison. Alright. Thank you. Well, thank you guys so much. You guys give Barb and Mr. Zielinski a hand. Thank you guys so much. They are with Marriage Management. Thank you, guys so much. Next up, we have Desiree Bailey with the City of Dallas Attorney Chris Caso and Veterans Treatment. Ms. Bailey, thank you so much for being with us today. How are you doing? How are you enjoying this event so far? It's lovely. It's nice to get out and network with all the different vendors, to also speak with the veterans that have served and to see what Dallas College is doing for the veterans. Yes, ma'am. And tell us a little bit, tell our viewers what it is that your organization specializes in. The City of Dallas Veterans Treatment Court is to help reduce barriers all around. I don't want to say it's just for our citations. So our court will take care of citations that are Class C misdemeanors citations. And so when the veteran has that citation, they come in and see me. But there's more to just the citation. So whether it's needing to get their driver's license, a birth certificate, whether they're needing to connect with their VSO (Veteran Service Organization). Sometimes it's just needing a little bit of rental assistance, utility assistance, we want to be able to help them with those barriers. We also like to help make sure that they have connections for employment. And then just individuals all have a different plan. So in lieu of paying for those citations, they're doing community service in order to have those dismissed. Okay. Awesome. And we know that sometimes when we transition that funds are a thing that we don't have very much because we're not used to using our education benefits, whether you've gotten out with your disability benefit or not. So this is extremely helpful.

That's awesome. Thank you for bringing that up. I have never heard of that program until today. So thank you very much. And to our viewers. And then what, I guess, what would you hope that our viewers take away from such an event like today's? One is I heard a bunch of our veterans that were speaking earlier today talking about what resources were available. And I understand that a lot back then was not and they also didn't have that platform of the social media to have the ability to network like we are today, even here with everybody else. So just know that there are resources and it takes asking. It also takes people like everybody in this room that are wanting to network and spread the word of what every organization does. But there is help out there. Please just ask and I promise you somebody is going to find some kind of assistance for you. Absolutely. So what I would like to say for your organization is that if you are hearing our broadcasts today or you're watching out one of our broadcast, one of our watch parties, please share this information, right? Yes. We have this information going up on our on our screens and things like that, it's gonna be rolling. And if you don't know how to get it, please contact us at the Veteran and Military-Connected service office. Because this is some things that our veterans aren't going to know. That they may get citations and they don't know what to do. We would love them to access your services. Yes, I would love for anybody to reach out to me. It just takes a few minutes for me to let you know whether or not if you qualify for our courts, but even if it's not coming into our court, if you need resources, please reach out to me and I'm happy to try to link you to whoever I can because that's what I think we should all be doing is not just stopping at where our field is. Absolutely. It's like a holistic 360 for that. Awesome. Thank you, Ms. Bailey. Thank you for your time. We appreciate you guys, give her a round of applause. Alright.

Thank you, folks. Next up we have Mr. Phillip Hoy, with the Employee Resource Group here at Dallas College. Alright.

Thank you, Phil. Thank you. You said I'll bring up props. Yeah, absolutely. So Phil runs multiple roles here at Dallas College. So we're going to talk about two things. First off is our Employee Resource Group. So Phil, tell me a little bit about what that means. Because we have a lot of staff, we have a lot of faculty who are veterans. And what does that mean for them? What it means is we finally got a a specified resource group for our military and veteran employees and staff members as well as allies. So anybody wants to be an advocate for this population can join. So please check that out. We're about to elect our first slate of officers.

So were really just getting started. It will allow us to bring the diversity that the military and veteran population has to Dallas College and a much more structured way.

And provide that support. You know the panelists this morning they talked about how there's not always that support mechanisms. This is how Dallas College can sort of meet those people halfway, meet our new staff members, help people transition. Okay, so that is part of what we're trying to do and then support the rest of the diversity efforts through Dallas College. Right. And this employee resource group is for supporting our veterans as staff and faculty. But you guys are also doing activities right there, support student veterans, right? We are not necessarily doing activities to support student veterans, but I think we are trying to help bring in some expertise into those activities. Okay, great, Yes But it's like this that are open to everybody that, we're here. We want to be part of the things. We want to partner with these and have community outreach and have these events. Right So we are staff focused, but we hope that that will carry over into a lot of other areas. Absolutely, absolutely. And if you guys feel supported or we as veterans feel supported here at our locations. We can support our students wholeheartedly that way, right? Right, it builds that hold friendly environment that we're hoping to have. Absolutely.

And then are there any events that are coming up with the ERG that you'd like to share? No. This isn't the only event we have right now, but we are trying to plan a Veterans Day breakfast. It is still in the planning phases. Love breakfast. I can't schedule that exactly, but there will be more information out there. Okay. Awesome. So Phil is also going to give you information today about College Credit for Heroes program. So Phil, why don't you tell us a little bit about your banner and then how this affects our students. This not only affects our students, I think it affects all veterans and military members. This helps us go from appreciation to value. So I can tell you as a veteran, I value your service or I can tell you I appreciate your service, but now I need to value it. For an educational institution we're valuing it by placing college credit for your military service, we're giving you that. We're evaluating military training and saying, Hey, this is what we can actually apply it to here at Dallas College. It's really a huge thing. Myself, when I was transitioning out of military, I had already gotten my bachelor's and a lot of that was due to the credit I got from military service. That's great. So all your experience will not translate. But this is where you can go and look. You can look at our online tool, completely transparent to all users, employers out there, potential students, staff members, everybody can look at it, see how your training may be valued. This is a start of a program. We've done about 2500 military trainings. A lot of them are in the business areas. But we all know from the military that translates into most occupations. Supervisor experience, management experience. It goes across all services, not all ranks exactly about E6 and above, but a lot of specific experiences are also in there. So come take a look at it and see how it applies to you. Alright, and we can find this information at guys, get it. Get a hold of that website and see what your college your military service credit accounts for here at Dallas College. Alright. Anything else Phil. that's all I have, right. All right. You guys. Thank you so much, Phil.

Appreciate your time. All right.

I hope you guys are tracking with this. We're going to throw a lot of things that you today. The next person or organization we have is Carrollton Springs with Ms. Megan Bolin. You guys give her a round of applause as she makes her way up here. Welcome.

Thank you for having me. Absolutely. We're so glad that you're here today. We get to see Ms. Megan at several of our events. So it's so nice to see the organizations continuously support our veteran community, like Carrollton Springs. So tell us a little bit about what Carrollton Springs does for veterans. So, Carrollton Springs. we are inpatient behavioral health hospital that also offers outpatient services. One of our outpatient services is called Help for Heroes. And what that offers is mental health services. It could be from addiction, trauma, PTSD, you name it anything that involves mental health. We can offer that on an outpatient service. Our inpatient, we can detox any of our veterans. We can, you know, do any kind of crisis stabilization that they may need. So we are a local resource that could help with all things mental health. Okay, awesome. Thank you, Megan. What, what is it that you hope that our veterans and their family members and even support staff, like our faculty and our advisors here, what do you hope that they get out of today's event? There are local resources. Everybody is talked about today is just ask, just ask questions. There are local resources that are here can help that can help you. I utilize, I network like crazy and I utilize all my resources every day. So if from getting out from today, if one person can help, somebody can help somebody, somebody's struggling. There are local resources here today that can help. And I think that's so important to just ask. Right?

Right? So just as a service member myself and just not used to being asking for help. That can be a hard thing for a lot of veterans, especially as they're coming out because that's not something that you do every day when you're active duty. So we want to highlight Carrollton Springs and that you guys are really out there doing the best work for our people. And we really appreciate your time, Thank you, and to let everybody know it is okay not to be okay. And that's a hard reality that a lot of people had to face, but absolutely mental health services available. Alright. Well, thank you so much. Thank you for your time. I appreciate you guys. You all give her a round of applause.

Thank you. Alright, up next we have Ms. Subrina Johnson with You guys welcome her, who are stage. This is our spotlight stage.

Alright, Welcome, welcome. Hi ladies. How are you? So we'd love we love that you guys are here. I see you guys at so many events nationally and locally. So we appreciate you guys what you do. Why don't you tell our viewers what you guys do with endeavors? Alright, Endeavors Supportive Services for Veteran Families. We offer housing support by rapidly housing. So if you're homeless and we can help assist you in getting housed. And if you're in danger of losing your home or you're living in a place with a friend and they want you to get out, we can find homeless prevention services.

Awesome. And those services are free. We are a housing first program. We serve in North County, 17 counties. That's a big service.

Fannin County being one of our newest counties. Cook County, Grayson County, Collin, Dallas, and Ellis County.

Montague, Jack, Wise County, Paulo Pinto, Parker, Tarrant County, Hood, Johnson, and Erath County. Yes. Awesome.

Okay. And then on top of homeless security, what else does endeavors do? Well, for our program, we provide wrap-around services, so it's involving case management. We can help the veterans get connected with the VA. We can also assist them with trying to get their critical documents. We can assist them with anything that's going to help them maintain their housing. Okay. And if we don't have that resource than we offer, we also connect with other resources to give them information. That's so great, ladies. Thank you so much. Is there anything that you would like to share with us that you have coming up? They are our veterans and their families can attend or that you'd like to share with them? Well, right now what I can say is we're in conjunction with the VA. The VA is housing or attempting to house 38 thousand veterans by December 31st. And these are homeless veterans, so we are participating in that. So what I would like to say is for all of you are there out there. If you know someone who's a veteran, you know, someone who's homeless, please refer them to our services. We are here to help and like I said, we're housing first. So it doesn't matter what you're going through, we will help you get housed. Great ladies, this is such an impactful thing. We see veterans on our streets. We see them on the corners, things like that. 38 thousand, that's a lot by the end of the year. So bravo to you guys. That's not an easy feat to do. So. Thank you. Thank you very much, ladies. Yes, ma'am. Please feel free to check out our website, We do have a list of our programs services and we also love to share our success stories and they are featured there as well. We'd love to hear those too. Alright guys, thank you so much, ladies. Thank you for being here. Thank you very much.

Alright, you guys. So then, next up we have is Ms. Tanya Mac with our Cohen Veterans Network. Please give her a round of applause as she makes her way up there. So Tanya's a good gal. She's with Cohen's Veteran Network. So tell us about a little bit about what Cohen's Veterans does. yeah, so we provide counseling and case management to veterans, active duty service members, and military families regardless of their role or discharge status. We see National Guard, Reserves doesn't really matter at all. But we are we do have a focus on Post 9/11 veterans. Okay. Awesome. Okay. Then is there any events or are there any events that you have coming up they'd like to share with us. Yeah. We have a ton of events. It's Suicide Prevention month.

So we've been doing suicide prevention classes every single Thursday at 11:00 AM. We have one again next Thursday at 11. It's actually Counseling on Access to Lethal Means, then we have Talk Saves Lives the following week. Then we're teaching A.S.I.S.T. (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training} on the following Thursday and Friday, we have a lot of suicide prevention classes. And it's open to the community. You don't have to be tied to a veteran. Obviously, we want those veterans and military families to come in, but we want the community to be equipped to handle any type of crisis situation. And the more people that are trained in these classes, the more people we can help.

Exactly, Exactly. Anything for the families that are coming up? Yes. And we have a huge Trunk or Treat event. On October 22nd from 5 to 7 PM at the clinic. We'd love to have families come out dress up. Halloween costumes. Its always fun so we'd love to have everyone out. And where are you guys located here in North Texas area. So our clinic's in Addison, right outside of the Addison airport, right North Dallas. Awesome. But yeah, there's clinics across the country. Okay.

Awesome. Is there anything that you think that our veterans and our communities should be getting out of today while they're at home to utilize when they if they encounter a mental health crisis. Yeah. I mean, I think just be human. Everybody here is dealing with issues. You've heard about all these resources and mental health. How hard it is to ask for help. But everybody is dealing with something. So just be kind to each other and don't be afraid to ask somebody for a hug, whatever it may be. Alright, thank you Tanya. We appreciate your time. Thank you. Guys give Tanya a round of applause. Thank you, Tanya. Guys, don't don't miss that Trunk or Treat. It's gonna be exciting. Alright, next step we have Krystle Kaszuba with Community Learning Center. You guys welcome Krystle to our stage this afternoon. Hi, Krystle, how are you doing today? Good morning. Is it morning? Yes, afternoon. All right. So tell us a little bit about what Community Learning Center does. We're a non-profit technical school, were located in Fort Worth and we've existed for 20 years. We started with one program because there was a technical deficiency in a big employer in the local area, which is Lockheed Martin. And so that started a manufacturing and aerospace assembly course for the company. And since that time, we've grown to seven different training programs. Most of them are in the technical field, but we also have administrative option as well. So within our company we have a whole veterans department. I'm one of three folks in the veterans department and all three of us are veterans. We are there to assist families. We can train veterans, their current spouse and dependent children. We do have funding available which would make the training free to that community, and then we help them with job placement. So writing a resume, applying for open job leads. And that's really our metric of success. So their relationship doesn't end until we land them that job or help them acquire that job. Okay. Awesome. Where are you guys located? We're in Fort Worth. We have two locations, as well as one in Forest Hill. And we also have been blessed by Texas Veterans Commission to have a financial assistance program. And so my colleague Frank runs that program. So if there are combat veterans or surviving spouses of combat veterans throughout the state of Texas that are in need of help with rent, mortgage, utilities, things like that we can help them as well. Okay.

You guys can find CLC's information. It's scrolling on our on our webpage here. But just find her at you want to share us your website just real quick, verbally. Yeah.

If you just Google CLC, I-N-C, it will pop up. It's the first one or you could even call us at (817) 569-9008 and hit Option- 4 for the veterans department. Okay. One more time for her number? (817) 569-9008.

Option- 4 Awesome.

Thank you, Krystle. I appreciate your time, and thank you for your service ma'am. Thanks for having us.

Alright. Thank you. Bye. Alright. Wow. So these organizations they were bringing here to you today, They're not by accident.

They are, because they're successful, the support that they, they see the need for that's actually making impacts in our community. So we really appreciate all of our vendors for being here today. Next up we have Mr. Bud Hughes with Veterans Freedom Retreat. Sir, come on app is to Bud. You guys give Mr. Bud a round of applause, please. Alright., Bud. So what is your organization do, sir? We helped veteran couples who have PTSD.

Typically the vet comes back from war or something and he's different because of the traumas that he's experienced, or she's experienced during that time. Our retreat is a 7.5 day retreat. It's free for the veteran couple. And we can usually reduce the symptoms of PTSD by about 50%, which is a huge number really. We've held 11 retreats so far in Texas, and we've prevented ten suicides during those 11 over retreats. That's a lot.

Great work. Great work. Thank you. Wow.

Yes, that's amazing. Alright, so if our, if our veteran families wanting to find you, how can we find your information? Well, the websites probably the easiest way. It's www.VFR.VET Fairly easy to remember. Just come to the website, look at the steps on the website. There's a lot of information, a lot of testimonials and so forth. There's also an application to fill out on the website, okay. And you can fill out that application, send it into us. We will contact you. Let's see if we can schedule a retreat for you. Awesome.

And so the veteran and the spouse, that it could be 1 and 1, right? Correct. Okay. Good.

Then are you do you do anything with the children? Did you just say. No, unfortunately, we don't.

It's just veteran and partner right now. That's great. No, that's a lot more than some things that we don't we don't know that are out there, so we appreciate it. Anything that you would like our veteran community to know that's like super special to your organization? Well, it's free for the veteran couple, both of them. We we like free, right? Yeah, 7.5 days. That's that's expensive, so yeah. Room and board is all taken care of materials, everything. You'll have the experiential education, you'll have counseling, you'll have stress reduction activities, you'll have peer support groups. And out organization, by the way, is run by strictly by veterans, for veterans. That's amazing. Okay. Well, we just want to say thank you for your time, but it's a pleasure to always see you, sir, and thank you for your service. We and thank you for our service. We appreciate you. Good to see you again. Yes sir. Thank you. Absolutely. Thank you guys. Give him a round of applause folks. Alright.

Thank you. Alright. Next up we have Mr. Francisco Ramiro with one tribe foundation. If you'll make your way up here, guys give him a round of applause. Just so you guys know, it takes a lot for our vendors to get up here. Some of them aren't used to speaking and we just want to say thank you for coming and being with us. So Francisco, What is it the One Tribe does? I know that you guys have actually had a transition with your organization. So kinda tell us who you were and who you are now. Sure. So we were 22 Kill. That was our umbrella over all of our programs. We are now One Tribe Foundation, so that's our umbrella, 22 Kill still a program that focuses on suicide prevention and awareness within our veteran communities, as well as first responders. And what we do at One Tribe Foundation as we provide mental health services to veterans, first respionders as well as their families from any era. We do provide therapy at little to no cost of our veterans. If you have a DD-214, we can get you in seeing a therapist. But focus is around that stigma. It's still there with a lot of our veterans first responders as far as what counseling and therapy looks like. But we want to try to, our mission is to raise awareness that combats suicide with empowering our veterans and first responders. And we want to get them and their families the help that they need when they need it without feeling that stigma holding them back? Absolutely, Absolutely. What is maybe one barrier that you see with the veterans that are coming to you that keeps them from asking for assistance. So a lot of times the barrier can be cost. A lot of times if you are going to see a civilian therapist, it can cause anywhere from $125 up. We provide all of our veterans as well as their family members if we can get them on a grant at no cost. A lot of barriers also are, the stigmas behind that. When you look for help, there's something wrong with you. We're trying to break that stigma. Let people know that it's okay not to be okay. Get the help that you need when you need it. That's what we're here for and we're gonna get you to the right place. Alright, awesome. Is there anything that you'd like to share with this it's coming up with One Tribe Foundation for this fall. The next event that I understand that we have is with Kraken Motorsports. It will be at a car show, $30 if you want to roll your car free for spectators, food trucks, it's going to be a good time, but we'll be out there. All the proceeds will be going back to One Tribe Foundation. Okay. Awesome. And how do we find that information for you? Just lists the verbalize it. Sure, so the number one, or just Google. One Tribe Foundation all of our events are on the webpabe. Awesome.

Thank You, Francisco. Thank you for your time and what you guys do for the veteran community. Thank you. Give him a round of applause, folks. Alright. So we're coming out with Ms. Shelley Craig with Faith and Grief. You'll give her a round of applause as she makes her way up here. Alright, that's okay.

Miss Shelley gonna be on her way here in just a moment. So we have Shirley Weddle with Suicide Prevention and Brain Health, Rotary eClub. You guys give her a round of applause for making her way up here. We hope you're enjoying your lunch and the watch parties that you are at. Thank you for the Dallas VA and also for our Fort Worth and Bonham locations. Thank you guys for tuning in today. And welcome, ladies. So we have Ms. Shirley and we have Ms. Shelley Craig. So guys, thank you so much for being here. Let us know who your organization is one more time. And then what your organization does is for our veteran community. Hello, perfect. And actually Shelley is a member of our organization also. Another you get another, you get a two for one.

Another you get another, you get a two for one. I am Shirley Weddle. I'm the Charter President for the Suicide Prevention and Brain Health Rotary eClub, so and Shelley. And I'm the Program Director at Faith and Grief. We provide grief support programs in the community and online. Yes, and so our Rotary Club it's am e-club means we meet over Zoom on the second and fourth Monday of every month. We're a service-based organization, part of the Rotary International Organization, which is composed of more than 1.4 million members around the world. And our motto is "service above self". And we are a cause-based club based on suicide prevention, brain health, and working out your brain, make it perform well, as well as mental health is brain health is physical health. We also support those that have lost someone to suicide, as well as those that struggle. We have members from multiple organizations and since we meet over Zoom, you're not limited by geography. So you can be a member in a different state. We have members from five states so far, and from multiple organizations. For instance, Halliburton Foundation, Cohen Metrocare, Faith and Grief, multiple other organizations. Awesome. Is there any events that are coming up for you that you'd like to share with our viewers? Yes, we work a lot with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. And so on October 29th, on that last Saturday in October, we have the annual Dallas Metro out of the darkness walk. It's a walk or to support survivors of suicide loss as well as those that struggle. It'll be held at the old ballpark at Arlington. I always forget the name of the park now, so okay. It's where the Rangers used to play. Globe Life Park, I believe, and it's on that Saturday morning and usually there's two or three thousand people there. There's lots of resources and a lot of support. So you just feel that support around you. And that's what we wanna do is bring together all these different resources that are like silos to support people and make those available for free. All right. And how many veterans are you seeing about every year? We have a number... So you're seeing the need is actually there. Would definitely. So we have a number of veterans in our group. We have members that are from the VA. From Cohen and different groups from all services and also in multiple locations. So we have veterans in Henderson County, in Lamar County, and even in other states, that are members of our group. Well, we really appreciate what your organization does for our community. Ms. Shelley, would you like to share anything else about your organization? Yes. Each holiday season here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we host the Faith and Grief Memorial Arch at Klyde Warren Park. Folks can come down themselves or with their families and write the names of loved ones who died and add them to the arch. By the end of the three-week event, we have this beautiful piece of art work full of love and stories. And so invite you to come out this year. I've got the new water park on the east end, and it should be a really wonderful event for families and for veterans. Thank you. We'd love for you to connect with our Student Veterans Association and he's, our president is here, Alex Sosa. These are some interesting events that are our students and families, even our ERG, our employee resource group, our veterans can attend. So thank you so much for sharing that. Make sure you connect with everybody out there. I know you guys are great at it, So definitely will. Yes. Thank you, ladies, for coming today. You all give them a round of applause for coming today. Thank you, Melwan. Thank you. Thank you so much for allowing us to be here. Absolutely. Thank you, ladies, and we appreciate you guys. Thank you so much. Alright. Moving right along, my friends. So we have Natasha Fuller with Unite Us. If she can come on up here. Ms.Natasha. Hi there. You guys give Ms. Natasha a round of applause.

Alright, so Ms. Natasha, What is it that you add that Unite Us? Your organization does? Yes. So we're a tool for coordinated care for all of these veteran focused and veteran based organizations that you've heard of today are a part of our network of partners who liked to make sure that coordination of care is being delivered accurately. Our founders, Dan Brillman and Taylor Justice, discovered back in 2013 that there was a lag of time period of lapse of when people are being connected to services. And on average, they determined it was about 16 days before a lot of people were connected to care. So we're here to bridge that gap and connect with passionate partners such as many of the service providers today, to be able to ensure that referrals are being managed and that there's accountability of care that is being delivered to the state of Texas and beyond. Right. So what do you find in that gap, that 16 day gap that you guys noted? Are you finding that veterans are not engaging if they're not getting contacted quicker? Exactly. And it's not just with veterans. We also work with just really any community members and individuals and families throughout the United States who need care. We all have social determinants of health and needs that need to be addressed. So yes, and the population of veterans that has been one of the biggest challenges with gaps of care, of just getting connected to the right people at the right time.

Right. So what would you, what levels or words of encouragement would you give some of our veterans to, when they are reaching out for help And I say, hey, I'm struggling with A, B, and C. How and when and where do I get some help from? Well, would you encourage them to keep doing? Oh, absolutely. Advocate for your care. Makes sure that you take the time out to speak to those supports that you have in your life, whether it'd be clinic or doctor's offices, social workers, case managers, make sure you advocate for yourself accordingly. Go to the, those decision-makers in the community as well, reach out. You can also reach out to our organization if there is providers in the community in which you live that you would love to see on our platform to make sure that that care is being delivered, please reach out to us. Awesome.

Are there any events that you guys would like to share? Our viewers can attend or even virtually. I'm actually you can go to our website which is for information of some virtual sessions that we have to introduce you to a little bit more what Unite Us about, spread the word. We're trying to get some great quality service providers within our network to ensure that care is being delivered to the veteran population and beyond. Okay, awesome. And you're finding that the virtual option even after, especially because after COVID, folks are, folks don't want to get out of their house necessarily, but if they are able to see you online, they're coming to use your services, right? Absolutely. Well, they're more importantly connecting and making sure that they get the care first. And then we can help gauge and making sure those service providers can get and reach those clients accordingly.

That's very important. But to add to what you're saying, absolutely. A lot of service providers are going virtual out of respect for people's confidentiality time and what they're able to trust that is going on in the community today. It's true. Well, thank you so much, Ms. Natasha. Thank you for being here. I appreciate your time. So thank you, guys. You please make sure you visit our vendors tables. Thank you. Thank you. And so next up we have Ms. Catherine Smith with our Texas Veterans Commission women veterans program. Ya'll give her a round of applause as she makes her way up here. Thank you.

Ms. Catherine it's so good to have you today. I thank you for being in one of our vendors, But I love loves see and yet all of our events. So thank you.

It tells us a little bit about what the Women Veterans Program does at your organization. Well, the Women Veterans Program, we assist our women veterans to ensure that they know what their state and federal benefits are. We help them with their unmet needs. We may have a woman veteran call us I'm about to be evicted.

With the help of our partners, we refer that veteran to our partners to assist them. To meet that need, maybe homelessness. During COVID we had a woman veteran seek assistance that just I just have to get some cleaning supplies so I don't pass COVID to my family. And we were able to assist at veteran as well. Now, the Texas Veterans Commission, we do have eight other programs. Of course to include the Womens Veterans Program. We have planes, education, employment, mental health, with this being a mental health summit. Yes, ma'am. Mental health. Within the mental health mental health program, we have our J-I-V or justice involve veterans, so we have a program to assist them, as well as the homelessness program. Then we have, no worries. We're here for here. We have let's see here. What do we got? We got our Veterans Mental Health Department right. In the homeless program. Right. We have on hey, no advocacy program. There you go. Because yes, they assist our veterans to navigate through the VA system. A veteran may be having problems just getting it within a certain clinic. They can seek out our health care advocates and they will help them navigate through it to get to that clinic for assistance.

Yes. And actually, I want to give you guys kudos because I've had to use an advocate from your office wherever, my personal family. So thank you so much for helping them because the turnaround time when you use Texas Veterans Commission is basically 24 to 48 hours. A quick process when you need help and a lot of times services unfortunately are dropped or missunderstood. So when you use an advocate that completely changes, it can change is the service and the health care provider that you get. Yes, to seek assistance from the Texas Veterans Commission all you have to do is go to our website, find the little contact. Click and add your contact information and whatever problem or issue you may be having and it will be forwarded to that department to assist you. Okay. Awesome. Thank you so much. Is there any events that you would like to share with us? Yes. Going on? We have our monthly virtual women veterans program. It happens the second Thursday of each month. We've had different speakers to discuss when you're in employment, whether your employer and employee rights. We have a VA loan program coming up. We've had a lot of different programs to assist women veterans to meet different service organizations. That's great. Awesome. Well, thank you, Ms. Catherine, guys thank you.

Give her a round of applause for her coming in today. Thank you Cahterine. I appreciate your time. Alright. Guys. Visit her table. She's got a lot of great resources for our veterans and the community. So even if you can't use the resource that you're hearing about or you see at one of our vendor tables, pick something up. I guarantee you have a student or you have a fellow faculty member, or a family member that you might need to pass that onto. So please, this is a wealth of knowledge and please share that with your friends and fellow viewers. Okay.

Next on the docket we have is Alex Alejandro Sosa with Student Veterans Association. If you can come up here.

Alex, Is he available right now? Not just yet.

Okay. So we're gonna get him on up here. So next, we have Mr. Jim Atkins with the VA North Texas Suicide Prevention Team. Alright.

You all give it up for Mr. Jim. Thank you. Thank you.

Alright, Mr. Jim, So tell us a little bit about what your organization does and I know that it is a lot, I work VA North Texas. I'm a social worker and I work on Suicide Prevention Team.

So our Suicide Prevention Team has what's called an enhanced care program for veterans that are risk high-risk for suicide, or have actually attempted suicide. Part of that is an intensive psychotherapy program where for the first month they get individual therapy sessions, four times. the second month, two, and the third month three. That's just specifically for suicide risk management.

Okay. You also get carrying letters. We also go into the chart and monitor their mental health services to make sure there is showing for appointments and getting the services that they need. If the no-show for an appointment, we call a make sure they get back in. Good, good That's super important, right? What's important about that also is that many of our veterans that are on the enhanced care program have attempted suicide. So they'd been on our inpatient psychiatric unit. They been an inpatient psychiatric unit. We know for veterans leaving the inpatient psychiatric unit after a suicide attempt, that first 90 days is critical them being at a higher risk to die by suicide. So that's the 90 days is how we define the enhanced care program. We do it for 90 days. Awesome. And how often are you connecting with those veterans that are in your program? Daily, weekly? Well, some daily, some weekly. Just depending on your need, right. Okay. And is there any are there any special programs that are coming out that people can come to it for the community to support this program.

Well we have suicide prevention month. This month. Yes. We have suicide prevention material and suicide prevention tables at all of our different CBOCs (Community Based Outpatient Clinics). Okay, awesome. So we want our people here our supporters and that are here in person at Richland, and we want them to come to your table. We want them to get information so they can share it with our students, fellow staff, faculty. So we'd love for you guys to check out his table today, please run by his vendor table. And thank you so much for coming here today. We appreciate your time.

Thank you. Alright. So next step we have Ms. Natalia Trotta with Military Veteran Peer Network, if she'll make her way up here. Alright. Thank you, Natalia for being here today Thank you. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. So tell us a little bit about what what does the acronym is MVPN, right? Yes. Tell us a little bit about what you guys do. It's the Military Veteran Peers Network. It's another network to seek other resources for veterans. And we also serve as veterans as well as service member family members for these resources that we do provide. One is also a along with TVC, Peer Service Coordinator, which means just providing resources to the veterans, especially when they're transitioning from military, civilian to civilian. I call it veterans civilian, very different transition, just understanding that it's a transition that we have to go through. I'm a veteran myself, I'm Air Force, 20 years. in the Air Force, so a retiree. So I understand the things that we have to go through. When we're transitioning to civilian life and it's a little different. And sometimes we do with the peers network. We have a peers group for men and women or co-ed, that a safe space that we can talk about our experiences and maybe find other resources that someone been going through. That with that said, the women veteran has a group, a virtual group that we do every Tuesday at 11 o'clock. And we just talk about things that, anything and everything.

Awesome, awesome. We kinda need that space a little bit too.

We appreciate that. Is there any, are there any events that are coming up that you'd like to share with our viewers? We have in coming up event, please look out for it at Denton veterans. Your Denton location? Yes, our Denton location.

Okay. we have a location out there at Veterans Point. We have events out there. Look out for the October, Halloween, and the holidays. Awesome. That's great. Well, thank you, Natalia. Thank you guys. Give her a round of applause for being here and thank you for your service. Thank you so much. It's nice to meet you today. Thank you.

Alright, guys. So next up, we have Miss Asha Johnson with the Texas Veterans Network. If she'll make her way up here, Miss Asha. All right.

How are you doing today? Alright. Ya'll, thank you so much for, thank you for being here for TVN. We appreciate you. I've seen your organization at many, many events. What you guys do is really important to connect people, but going to tell us about, tell our viewers what your organization does. So Texas Veterans Network, excuse me. So we wanted to eliminate the barrier of veterans falling through the cracks. So we are a connecting and referring agency. So we connect and refer veterans and their families to free resources available in your community. Pretty much any scenario any problem you think you might have. We have on financial assistance, homelessness, if you need help with a disability claims, if you just want to group your group veterans, you just want to hang out with and talk to. So pretty much the whole nine yards.

Mental health counselors. A lot of people who ya'll already heard from are a part of our network that we refer to. So we just want to our whole thing is to take a holistic approach and to get the veterinarian back to being self-sufficient to where they don't have to come back to us and ask for assistance. So there's our main goal was to help veterans. Mostly our whole team is a veteran. I'm a Navy veteran. Awesome. A lot don't know we're here, you're not alone so we with just wanna let everybody know that you have help. We're here. But you have to let the pride go and reach out and let us know that you need. And we will do everything we can to assist you won't get ten numbers to call. We do all the leg work for you. So we find organizations, we refer, your just work with them. We just got to know that you need help. But know that we're here for you. Awesome.

Ms. Asha, how are our veterans able to connect with you? So you can connect online, you can go to That's the easiest way because you can go online and just tell us straight up what you need and we'll work from there. Or you can call and leave a voicemail. And this (844) 489-8387. Those are the main two or if you see me or one of my co-workers out at an event because we do events all everyday all day. And you need assistance just pulling one of us to the side and we'll get you plugged in and you're going to get him there. Pardon me? Are you guys gonna be at the State Fair this year? I don't gotta be there.

Possibly. Could. For that, we need to get so many of our veterans families say that's where they, you know, they released and they relax, and I don't know. That's a good plug for you guys. Real quick question.

Do you guys have a resources for daycare? Because we get that asked a lot. Is that something that we can help you we can help our veterans with, right. We don't have day care, not yet. Okay. Not yet but that is something. But we see that's a need right. Okay. Well, there you go. So we're helping each other out, so yes, Ms. Asha Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for your service. And I hope you've had any, you're enjoying this event as well. This wonderful. Alright. User the resources ya'll. Alright, Thank you, Ms. Asha, we appreciate you. Alright, do we have our SVA. Our SVA.

So we have our Emilio Ortiz with our Student Veterans Association. You guys give him a round of applause. This is hard for some of our students to get up here and speak. So we appreciate you, Emilio. Thank you so much and we have them as Hillary, she's our SVA advisor. Is that correct, ma'am. Okay. So what is it that the SVA does here at Dallas College and around the Nationally really. So, our mission is to provide a voice for veterans on campus and then also provide an avenue to reform familial of the bonds of service. And then also try to promote campus involvement and encouraged community service. And really want to provide a social network for veterans and their family as well. SVA overall as a national organization too does that. And also helps our veterans provide resources, maybe their need for some kind of financial assistance need. Right. Stuff and that sort. What position do you hold with the SVA?

What position do you hold with the SVA? This semester, I hold the position of treasurer.

Awesome. Okay. So he's the money man guys. He makes it happen for our SVA. Thank you for stepping up and being a part of our SVA here at Dallas College. We really appreciate that. Is there anything else that you'd like to tell us what's going on here this semester? To all of our students, especially that are listening in our watch parties? Yes. So our next SVA meeting is going to be on October 14th, Cedar Valley. And from there on, we're gonna be going on tour. So we'll be visiting each different campuses, getting to meet our fellow veterans and military-connected personnel as well. Great.

And we'd love to have more people on board. It's, it'd be great because this is a new re-established student organization. Back then when Dallas Colleges were seven college campuses, But now that Dallas College is one network, we're trying to just build it back up. Build it back up , right? Yes. And tell us what service you were in Emilio. I was in the Air Force for four years. Alright. Give it up for our Air Force. Air Force, one too many... Alright.

Ms. Hillary, would you like to say a few words about what you are experiencing here with our SVA. Honestly, I feel like SVA has made a huge impact for every student I have ever seen involved. The national SVA has connections at any school and they will tell you that if you want to be involved in SVA, they will get you in and you want to go to Columbia, you want to go to Stanford, go to Dallas College, will get you connected. Can you re-form those bonds that you may feel like you don't want to connect with those people again, back with military-related, right? But everyone that comes to us and gets connected does not, they don't regret it. They do better in their classes. They're more successful in school. I'm a faculty member, so I serve just as an advocate. And so.

Thank you for that. We appreciate you. Seriously, thank you very much.

We welcome everyone to come to us even if you just have a question. So even in our SVA, so we've had a few meetings here at, at, at East Village campus. We've had people that are not veterans. Their dependents that come in or military connected, also supporters. So we encourage everybody to come to our meetings, right? If you want to help support the SVA, you can still come to our meetings, right? Um, and you said the next one is October 14th, right? Yes, ma'am. What time is that at? To be determined. To be determined, guys. October 14th. But it's Cedar Valley, correct? Correct. Okay. So you guys look up our Cedar Valley location address and you will see Emilio and our president, Alex Sosa and the rest of the board there. And Ms. Hilary guys, thank you so much for being here with us today. I love that we're ending our lunch hour with our SVA because you guys are our push, you're veteran students trying to get out there and make a difference. And it's, it's hard because we all know what we all the struggles that we've all had to come through to get right here in front of this mike. It's not easy, right, Emilio. So we appreciate you. Thank you, brother. Appreciate you, guys.

Ms. Hillary, thank you. Thank you, Alright. You guys. That concludes our lunch hour interviews for today. We want to thank all of our vendors and all of our volunteers that made everything happen today. We also want to thank our IT department, holler out at for our IT all around at all seven of our campuses and today at Richland. And also I would like to give a shout out real quick to our military veteran compliance team. There are managers and they help get all of our student veterans certified for their benefits at all seven of our campuses. So bravo to you guys. We love you. Thank you so much. And it's back to our panel. Alright, thank you guys and have a great day.