Military Veteran Peer

Military Veteran Peer Network offers veterans camaraderie, support By STEVE KNIGHT/The Lufkin News A new center in Lufkin, operated by the Military Veteran Peer Network through a state grant administered by the Burke Center, offers veterans camaraderie as well as peer counseling, mental health awareness and other services. The Military Veteran Peer Network is an affiliation of service members, veterans and family members dedicated to providing a safe and understanding network of support with those who have “been there and done that” and developing trusted relationships with others by shared life experiences. According to Veterans Coordinator Jeff Headrick, himself a Marine, the mission is accomplished through commitment, training and volunteerism. “We’ve opened up a veterans center which is based around peer support,” Headrick said. “We believe that accomplishments can be made through peer support. We have a place where veterans can come and enjoy themselves. The veterans does not need to be a member; they can walk off the street, grab a drink, sit in front of the television and enjoy themselves.” Events, meeting and programs will provide opportunities for veterans in Deep East Texas to build a network of support and understanding with trust, camaraderie and hope, Headrick said. Volunteers are trained in peer support and mental health awareness. “We have volunteers that can do counseling; we can do one-on-one counseling and peer counseling,” Headrick said. “We are looking for volunteers who can assist us with our social networking and organization. We’d like to find someone who can help us with claims and loans.” The center also offers networking with local, state and national resources that offer assistance to veterans. Networking resource topics include reintegration, marriage and family issues, financial and legal assistance, PTSD and TBI treatment, depression, anxiety and anger, alcohol and substance abuse, military sexual trauma, education and job training, homelessness, Veterans Affairs claims and benefits, and an extensive database of services. “The network was started by accident,” Headrick said. “It was started by a veteran trying to mentor another veteran. They decided to broaden it and offer peer support by veterans to other veterans. Health authorities like the Burke Center and others statewide have been given a state grant to start the program.” It’s a work in progress, and nothing is in stone, but Headrick said they do have a vision of what they want to accomplish. “We have the availability to do a lot of things to meet the needs of veterans,” he said. “If the veteran has needs, we’re going to try to meet those needs.” The center, at 3003 N. Medford Drive in Lufkin, is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays with peer support groups available from 3-5 p.m.; from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays with coffee and doughnuts; and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays. The center is closed on Wednesday and Friday. For more information, contact Headrick at 225-2887 or 899-7110. Information about the Military Veteran Peer Network is available online at source