As a veteran, it can often feel like you’re abandoned without anyone to turn to. Thankfully, there are people who have set up plenty of networks and care centers to help you out. Whether you just need to talk or need actual professional help, there are people proud of your service and willing to help you with whatever you need for free.
The Warrior Care Network is focused on veterans and their mental health. It’s a collaboration with the Wounded Warrior Project and world-renowned academic medical centers. They’re focused on disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST), and any similar conditions that hamper a veteran’s life.
Each veteran and their family get the best kind of treatment, individualized programs, and care for their personal needs. These treatments and accommodations are free of cost, and there are even financial assistance programs in case you need help with groceries, utilities, and housing costs. Travel is also covered, so you don’t have to worry about getting a ride.
Some of the services include comprehensive medical reviews, group therapy sessions, fitness education, family support, and alternative therapies.
To get into the network, you must meet some requirements:
- You must have served or deployed on or after September 11, 2001.
- You must have some symptoms of PTSD, MST, or TBI, but no diagnosis is necessary.
- You must attend the program for at least two weeks.
If you have been hospitalized in the last 30 days or you have to detox from substances, you’ll be ineligible.
Project Odyssey is a 12-week mental health program for veterans that focuses on helping those with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. It teaches the veterans how to work on their problems, enhance their resiliency, and help them get their life back on track.
The mental health program is broken up into groups, so you can go into an all-male, all-female, co-ed, couples, or family program. You can pick one based on your needs and what makes you feel the most comfortable.
Included in the 12-week course is a five-day retreat and workshop. During these retreats, those with mental health trauma are encouraged to step out of their comfort level and try new routines and practices. Participants will experience new ways to communicate, set goals, and develop skills for lifelong changes.
All food, travel, and lodging are covered. In addition to working on mental health, the program also offers activities to help you get outside and relax your mind, including skiing, snowboarding, rafting, rock climbing, and hiking.
While you can always look at these big national programs, it’s worth checking out your local area as well. Sometimes it can be closer and less stressful, and you don’t have to upend your life to get the assistance you need.
Look around locally and see if there are any vet centers, local mental health centers, shelters, or call centers. They may be able to help you find resources that fit your needs and even help you go through the admission and qualification process.
Most of these are smaller and not as well-funded, so they might not cover some things like transportation. If there isn’t much transportation available in the area, consider a ride service. For example, there is a chauffeur service DC in the Washington, D.C. area because it can be scary to drive in that crowded city, and walking or taking public transportation may not always be feasible.
If you’re clueless about where to get started and don’t know what your first step should be for finding help in your community or even nationally, look at some of the hotlines and helplines. There are many dedicated to helping veterans, especially with their mental health, that you can call at any time of day.
Some of the hotlines include a crisis line, a suicide prevention hotline, a domestic violence national hotline, and a national child abuse hotline. While these are standard lines, there are sometimes options specifically for veterans. Such is the case for the first two, where you just have to press the number one when prompted to get in touch with a VA center.
Helplines aren’t always available 24 hours a day, but they can be useful. There is a helpline for the National Veterans Foundation, which helps with information referrals, outreach for veterans, and crisis management.
Then there is a homelessness helpline, which is designed for veterans that are homeless or about to be homeless and don’t know what their next step should be or what help they can get.
Many veterans turn to substance abuse when they don’t get the help they need. Thankfully, there’s a helpline for that as well. Known as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA, it offers veterans confidential and free information on where to find help. They also have a website where you can search for treatment centers.
If you need help right away, look at clinics and outreach programs that provide free mental health assistance for veterans. The Soldiers Project is located in quite a few cities and states, including Chicago, Houston, Long Island, New York City, Sacramento, California, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.
There is also Give an Hour, where professionals in mental health volunteer their services for veterans in need. You can look on their website for local help. Another program is Homecoming For Veterans, which has a list of clinics that offer free 20-minute sessions for veterans in need.