Transitioning from the military back into civilian life can be challenging. From finding a job or mental health resources to meeting people who can relate to the military lifestyle, overcoming these obstacles can be the difference for a Veteran being able to support themselves and their families. Thankfully, Texas Veterans can avoid these difficulties by utilizing the resources available through the Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN). This network provides Peer Service Coordinators, trained and certified by the Texas Veteran Commission’s (TVC) Veterans Mental Health Department to meet the unique needs of Veterans and their families.
Peer Service Coordinators accomplish this task in a number of ways including:
· giving warm-handoffs to local resources based on the Veteran and family’s needs;
· suicide prevention and military cultural competency training;
· providing direct peer-to-peer support;
· leading a local team of peer volunteers
All services are provided free of charge with no caps or limits on services provided. Regardless of discharge or deployment status, branch of service or length of service — one day or a 20-year career — any individual who served this country can access the MVPN. Similarly, whoever the Veteran turns to for support in times of struggle is someone considered family by the MVPN.
In the six months from September 2020 through February 2021, the MVPN served 34,789 Veterans or Veteran family members. Additionally, MVPN conducted 196 training events and trained 642 Texans in basic military cultural competency and suicide prevention.
To further demonstrate the impact and value of the MVPN, here are a few recent examples of what Peer Service Coordinators have accomplished across Texas:
Robert Adair, Peer Service Coordinator of the greater Beaumont area connected a homeless Veteran and her disabled daughter with a peer volunteer who offered the family a house to stay in for as long as they needed to get back on their feet. Additionally, Robert helped this Veteran get connected with VA benefits assistance.
LaJohn McDonald, Tarrant County Peer Service Coordinator assisted a fellow Veteran living in a shelter and in desperate need of eye surgery. Lajohn connected the Veteran to the appropriate person to obtain critical medical services and help him address the eyesight problem that once impeded the Veteran’s ability to find work. LaJohn also helped navigate federal housing assistance programs, leading to stable and independent living.
Oscar Pulido, Peer Service Coordinator for Victoria and adjacent counties, recognized the need for comradery among area Veterans. With local faith leaders and other stakeholders, he coordinated and organized a community event providing Veterans and their families with free meals and the opportunity to connect with local community resources and service providers.
It’s critical for Veterans to be confident their communities have their back upon exiting military service. These few examples from the Military Veteran Peer Network should give Veterans confidence that there is no limit to the resources available through this network. To learn more about the MVPN, including how to find your local Peer Service Coordinator or how to join as a volunteer, please visit the MVPN website at www.milvetpeer.net or email the Veterans Mental Health Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.