By: Jennifer O’Neill, HVRP Program Manager and Vocational Specialist
Ivan is a US Army Veteran who served as a 35G Geospatial Imagery Analyst (G.I.S). He served four years at Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he met and married his wife. He deployed for nine months to Nangarhar, Afghanistan, where he helped pick out helicopter landing zones for Blackhawks and assisted Apaches with gun tape to ensure everything was done by rules of engagement.
While serving overseas, he started college and obtained his associate degree to further his career. During his time in college, he maintained a 3.5 GPA. Even though life was going well, Ivan was struggling with the challenges he endured during his deployment to Afghanistan. As a result, he began to self-medicate with marijuana and other substances, which led to being discharged with a general under honorable conditions.
After being discharged, Ivan was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other pain issues that he sustained during his military tenure. Despite many challenges he was facing, he continued to strive to do right. Unfortunately, he hit a stuck point and felt like he was entering a downward spiral with no hope of recovering. As things worsened, Ivan’s wife left and filed for a divorce. When everything seemed at its bleakest, he got a bottle of valium from his ex-wife and attempted to commit suicide. Fortunately, he was not successful.
A Collaborative Solution:
In September of 2022, Ivan checked into Gales Lodge in Dallas and Polk County in Oregon. While at Gale’s Lodge, he signed up for the HVRP (Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program) to look for employment. When working on his employment plan, I spoke to him about coming to VETcare and receiving assistance from the in-house clinician with his PTSD.
VETCare is comprised of a support team that includes a mental health counselor, who was working with Ivan on his PTSD; his case manager, Jim, who helped budget out a plan using his short- and long-term goals; and myself, whom helped find employment as well as assisting him on his resume, cover letters, and mock interviews. I also helped purchase things, such as work clothes, that Ivan needed when looking for employment. Finally, the Housing Manager, Roy, with Critical Time Intervention, was also imperative to Ivan’s success in his future life. The support team at VETCare was available 24 hours a day in case he was experiencing any issues regarding his VA disability claims, mental health issue, or other concerns.
What Ivan felt contributed to part of his successes were the weekly and monthly check-ins with his support system, which included his Mental Health Counselor, HVRP Case Manager, Employment Specialist, and VETCare Case Manager. This helped him establish a routine while at VETCare which was imperative in helping him succeed and move on to the next chapter of his life.
Despite not feeling successful at that time at Gale’s Lodge, he established a positive relationship with the Veteran’s Service Officers, Andrew and Eric, and the Case Managers who helped him establish a healthy lifestyle, positive mindset, and self-discipline – which contributed to his success at VETCare.
In Ivan’s Own Words:
“Facilities like VETCare and Gales Lodge truly saved my life. They prevented me from entering an ever-downward spiral and were imperative to my success. It helped me establish a routine and taught me how to continue to be disciplined in all aspects of my life. It put me in a place with like-minded individuals. Everyone has a story. So, being around people made it easier for me to work on the things I needed to by having company around whom I could relate and talk to in some way. I always had something to keep me busy while living at these facilities such as having to do chores, having a list of tasks and goals. It was a rich and diverse support system that I depended on daily, weekly, and monthly so that I could accomplish the goals I needed to find gainful employment and permanent housing. Having people in my corner like I did at VETcare and Gale’s Lodge with Jim, Roy, Jennifer, Brittany, Andrew, and Eric allowed me to be successful.”
Ivan is currently employed full-time with DHS.