Veterans talk about services dogs for PTSD
Friday, July 20, 2012
It was a classy event with a welcoming staff that engaged Veterans with experiences from Vietnam to “the sand pit.” The reason they were all together was the first open house held June 17 at VA’s Chapel Street Clinic in Brooklyn.
In her welcoming remarks, Program Specialist Romaine Johnson urged Veterans and representatives of organizations offering services to Veterans to speak informally with VA specialists in areas such as Eligibility, Benefits, MyHealtheVet, Medical and Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Spirituality. Other experts were available to talk one-on-one about Housing, the Domiciliary Program, Legal and Community Outreach and employment-related progress.
“How do I get into Compensated Work Therapy?” one Veteran asked an expert. “How can I become involved with the Chaplaincy program?” asked another Veteran, who came to the Open House specifically to have this question answered.
Veterans took advantage of the opportunity to talk to each other. Once he had received guidance about the HUD-VASH program, another Veteran sat down to chat with a man. He asked him to explain how his service dog assists him. “Teddy Bear helps me with my PTSD and anxiety,” the man explained, handing him a copy of Veterans Advantage magazine that includes a detailed article on the subject.
Nancy Schwartz, of Women’s League of Voters, had a steady stream of Veterans waiting to register to vote. And, Addiction Therapist Dr. Inez Tillman screened a new electronic overview of Chapel Street services made with two Veterans. The presentation is still a work in progress and viewers were encouraged to comment on how it could be improved. Already planned additions to the presentations are testimonials illustrating how Veterans feel services have helped to address their issues.
Food was tempting. The morning session was complemented by a breakfast spread of coffee, bagels and Danish. Later, a generous summertime lunch featured “Stanley’s Famous Fish Fry,” hot dogs, burgers, assorted salads and lemon-lime iced tea. The afternoon schedule offered more opportunity for Veterans to talk with service providers and gather information followed by mini red velvet cupcakes, mini cups of nuts and mini cold drinks. The Open House is designed to be an annual event.