Peer to Peer Support Group Forming for Valley Veterans

Monday, July 2, 2012 - 7:55am

"A lot of people don't understand why we wake up at four in the morning and risk our lives then come back home and can't adjust to normal life," says Ada Valez, Veteran and Peer to Peer Facilitator.

For some veterans integrating back into society can be a struggle. Some return relatively physically and mentally healthy. Others however, struggle with more serious issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"PTSD can interfere with their daily functions. I mean it can interfere with their jobs, with their relationships, with the family relationships. A lot of them have difficulty adjusting to what we call civilian life," says Anna Castillo, Veteran and Veteran Adjustment Specialist.

Symptoms of the disorder are noticeable to others around.

“Easily angered, mood swings, night terrors and nightmares, withdrawn. There's a number of items, of symptoms you can actually see," explains Edward Saldivar, Veteran and Valley Veterans Coordinator.

A new group here in the valley has formed to help vets of war and peace time, from all eras, address PTSD issues and other concerns. The group is peer based; soldiers helping soldiers.

"Counselors do a great job, no doubt about that. Then we have our doctors that do a great job at the VA, but we have the experience and sometimes it's just hard for us to relate to a stranger, but it's not hard for us to relate to another vet, even if we just met him five minutes ago," says Tony Garcia, Veteran and Peer to Peer Facilitator.

The peer to peer facilitators are all vets themselves who have gone through training to lead the sessions.

"it doesn't matter what uniform you're in. You are a brother and a sister and you take care of each other either there or here;you're one large family and you take care of each other," says Chris Boetner, Veteran and Peer to Peer Facilitator.

But the meetings aren't just for the uniformed military family, the blood family is also invited to sit in and participate as they are often affected as well.

"Peer to peer is not only for the veteran, the spouse of the veteran can come, the children of the veteran can come now. I am a veteran, I am a spouse of a veteran, so I understand on both tokens," says Valez.

As of right now, there are about 110-thousand veterans here in the valley. The group hopes veterans from all eras, will take advantage of these peer to peer sessions to help both themselves and their brother or sister in uniform work through whatever it is they may be struggling with.

For more information on the Peer to Peer Sessions you can contact Tony Garica at 956-459-9345.


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