By Sherri Conant, Journey Advocate, SJVV – Stockton
Jeff came into our program last spring with no job, no income, and no hope. He had worked in construction, specifically concrete work, since getting out of the military, but hurt his spine late the year before. He was denied disability since the injury happened while doing his own home repairs and not on the job. He had struggled during the onset of COVID-19 to get doctor’s appointments, assistance with disability payments and even getting medication. By the time that he called the San Joaquin Valley Veterans (SJVV) office in Stockton, he was out of options.
In talking to our Program Coordinator, Sean, he stated that he was ready to, “Just end it all.” He said that he was worth more to his wife dead than alive because at least his life insurance would provide for her for a little while. Sean brought one of our advocates the screening and Jeff was contacted immediately. Using strength IDs, motivational interviewing techniques, and some good old-fashioned humor, he began to see himself differently by the end of that two-hour phone call.
Jeff learned how to advocate for himself again and taught himself how to maneuver the new medical system despite COVID-19 protocols. He worked diligently to improve his communication and found new hope in the successes that he has had along the way. He went from, “Just going to end it all,” to, “I have too much to do to go out now.” This Army Veteran is a success story in how just being a partner, a listener and a resource provider can improve the mental health of an individual.
He exited the program in early May, was excited to be on his own, and prepared for what may come. In the last year, he obtained permanent disability and a surgery date for his spinal injury. He has also been able to negotiate with his landlord and found the strength to care for his wife when her health took a turn. He, like so many of our Veterans, came into our program flat out and ready to give up. Jeff stated at his exit interview: