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A VETcare Success Story Featuring Craig

  • Post category:Oregon

By Nancy Pine, Case Manager and Craig M.

We’d like to share a letter from one of our VETcare clients, Craig M, who recently completed the program and has moved to Oklahoma to be closer to his family. His story is further proof of why our work is so rewarding. Congratulations, Craig. We’re proud of the work that you’ve done and know that you’ll be successful in the future.

“Hello. I would like to share with you a part of my story.

When I first arrived at VETcare, I was a broken man. I went full circle from trying to end it all to starting a new, calmer, and more fulfilling life.

I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from my time during Desert Storm and have had years of counseling because of it. But with COVID-19, job loss, divorce, and later a bankruptcy – I wasn’t able to ‘deal with it’ any longer.

After I was admitted to the Portland VA mental health ward twice, I was introduced to a case manager named Eric. He provided the first stair of my year-long journey out of the ruins and ashes that my existence had become. He got me enrolled in a PTSD program at the Boise VA, but it wouldn’t start for a few more weeks. I was incapable of processing complex thoughts, let alone returning to my prior residency. Eric then introduced me to the 2nd stair (My ‘landing,’ actually).

After a very caring and patient conversation with Brenda Powers from VETcare, I had a place where I could burrow until my program started. I was a qualified ‘hot mess in distress.’ Along with PTSD, I had anxiety that was off the charts as well as severe depression.

From the jump, their entire staff treated me with respect, dignity, and compassion. Upon my return from Boise, I was no longer smoldering from the ashes, but still charred. Then, serendipity stepped in by the name of Donald Phillips, their on-site mental health counselor. He and I began a series of sessions that methodically allowed me to climb the first flight of stairs. I say ‘serendipity’ because Donald was a Veteran who had lived through many of the issues that I was encountering and came out the other side. He had invaluable experience and was a big advocate of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the same type of treatment utilized by the Boise PTSD program. Donald spent many, many hours reinforcing the training (including homework) and answering any questions that I had. We discussed anything that was troubling me. He, his professionalism, patience, and compassion would become a true grounding rod for me. David and James, a fellow staff person, have always been generous with their time, empathy, and willingness to help the Veterans that they serve.

When things seem like they’re getting out of hand, I have resorted to throwing a ‘Hail Nancy.’ Nancy Pine’s demeanor, willingness to help, and knowledge of resources for Vets have been invaluable.

The entire kitchen staff of Chris, Roger, and Denise are a well-oiled machine. They are a pleasure to be around and are unquestionably dedicated. The quality of the food, down to its presentation (Really? Are we still talking about a GPD facility?), has been the bright spot of many a rainy and stormy day.

Honestly, there was a noticeable vacuum here when Brenda retired. But Ray, despite everything that he was experiencing, adroitly sealed the vacuum again. I assume he had outside concerns because I have never heard him complain – never. I often stand in awe of how he deals with difficult clients and circumstances. He is respectful without fail. The amount of time and effort that Ray puts in, is in my opinion, the overarching reason that this place should be WestCare’s template for all of their other programs.

I will truly miss this place as I am seeing it in the rear-view mirror and smiling through the windshield. Thank you all for giving me a chance to have a life worth living.”Craig M.