“Veterans House is a not for profit, peer supported home environment where veterans can heal from Mental Illness and transition to a meaningful life with their families, and communities.”
Veterans House (VH) will support halfway or group home type facilities for Veterans, to heal from Mental illness including Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) (such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other injuries), in Eastern Ontario, Canada.
VH will be the first collection of veterans’ group homes or halfway houses in Canada operating as an interface between researchers, practitioners and veterans. VH will be a place where veterans experiencing crisis can come and know that they will be safe and cared for until they are able to work through their crises. VH will provide a full range of programs to help cope with Mental Illness and the stresses of learning to re-enter life after suffering traumatic physical losses. This is an opportunity to influence the effective treatment of veterans’ health by impacting and decreasing veteran suicides and homelessness. Each year, a single facility will help 30-40 veterans recover and reintegrate into society without alienation or feelings of segregation.
The rash of veteran suicides first highlighted by the media in the fall of 2013 and the current state of veteran homelessness has spawned independent veteran support groups including a veteran-run suicide prevention line. The result of these independent veteran actions is a societal response of support and mounting pressure for the Government to address the crisis and to disclose the extent of mental illness in veterans.
Unfortunately most veterans are trying to self-care in isolation; some are successful, but most are not. Success can be based on experiencing an environment that promotes recovery verses one that prevents the journey from beginning or discourages it from continuing. Treatment methodologies, including multi day programs, require the veteran to self-evaluate and self-care at the end of each session. Veterans with firsthand knowledge and experience can provide direct feedback to researchers and therapist on how to streamline therapies to better effect the course of treatment for mental health issues. (Therapies which are effective to many verses the exception)This was exemplified by researchers at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum 2016 which demonstrated that veterans can make a significant impact when partnered with research. Additionally, the leading cause of homelessness in North America is mental illness.
In a presentation session (spring 2016) with Brigadier General Colin Mackay (Surgeon General of Canada) while discussing ways we can better express what we at VH want to accomplish he stated “It is very difficult to address physical changes in the brain, brought on by psychological trauma (release of cortisol) through therapies alone, and even more so without support.” This spoke profoundly to us and inspired VH to rework how we discuss and talk about supporting emotional trauma in a peer supported environment.
The number one symptom of PTSD is sleep disturbance resulting in depressed levels of melatonin. The common clinical response is to increase serotonin via serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants. The result widens an already existing gap between melatonin and serotonin, and is creating changes in the medications of choice. We at VH can make an impact on the veterans sleep by ensuring proper nutrition, a proper bed, a supported environment and access to partnered therapist who has an interest in tackling the veteran’s mental health issues. It is our desire to work in conjunction with excising therapists to the extent that geography will allow. Where that is not practical the therapist will be kept abreast of the proxy therapist progress and will receive a full update on discharge.