What is a veteran community? What is the eligibility for joining a veteran community? Are you looking for a referral for a veteran community? What are the benefits of joining a peer community for veterans? Do you know someone who can benefit from joining a veteran community? If you are looking for answers to these questions, this article is for you.
My name is Sean Galla, an online forums facilitator with more than ten years of experience. Part of my work involves facilitating support communities, including veteran communities. This has given me firsthand experience of how being part of such a veteran community can help to enhance the quality of life of veterans. If you are a veteran looking for a place to belong, grow, help other vets, a veteran community is exactly what you need.
This article will cover everything you need to know about veteran communities and what they are all about.
Table of Contents:
What is a Veteran Community?
A veteran community is a type of veteran-to-veteran supportive service that offers a variety of services and access to veterans benefits to army veterans and service members still in active duty, including the marine corps, national guard, and army responders.
Some of the services offer in veteran communities include help with maneuvering the benefits.va.gov/gibill/ website to access VA benefits, housing for homeless veterans, access to VA medical centers, education benefits and enrollment in a community college, financial aid, and state tuition and tuition waiver for student veterans, among other support services for veterans.
A veteran community is much more than a resource for official services and assistance. It is also a vocational rehabilitation center where veterans meet and talk about their experiences and challenges and acquire skills to help them in transitioning into civilian life and overcome trauma from combat. Veteran communities offer supportive care to veterans at different stages of their recovery journey.
A veteran community is a safe space for veterans battling mental health issues such as PTSD, substance abuse as a way of coping with trauma. Some veteran communities further offer skills that veterans can learn to help them get jobs after returning home from deployment.
Veteran communities are overseen by the U.S. Department of veterans affairs or fellow vets of veteran support specialists with the right training and knowledge in facilitating trauma groups. These communities are helpful additions to clinical services. They help to strengthen emotion and make it easy for veterans to foster social connectedness, which is often difficult after time in combat.
A veteran community can be seen as a trusted guide to veterans’ services. In these groups, vets straight from combat meet fellow veterans who have undergone the same journey to wellness. This offers hope and access to support to help the vet find healing and enjoy wellness even after a traumatic experience in combat.
Apart from offering support to veterans, a veteran community can also be beneficial to family members of veterans. Some communities also offer caregiver and family support to help military families learn how to support their service members of the family after they come home from active duty.
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Why Every Veteran Needs a Veteran Community
A veteran community gives vets access to services that can make their integration easier. In these communities, vets get the opportunity to access financial aid to go back to school, access to healthcare and therapy, and access to other veteran benefits.
Veteran communities are mostly led by facilitators who have been through trauma. Most groups meet in person, even though some of these groups also provide online support.
A safe space for vets
When you become part of a veteran community you are encouraged to share your story with the group as part of the recovery process. Sharing your story opens you up to the possibility of sharing about your trauma.
This free space allows veterans to listen to one another as they share their experiences with similar trauma. Joining a veteran community offers support to cope with memories of the trauma, mental illness from the military service, and gives you access to helpful support and advice on how to better other areas of your life that are affected by the trauma.
There are many benefits associated with becoming part of a veteran community. Some of the best benefits include:
- Knowing that you are not alone and that your case is not isolated since with meet others going through similar issues
- You get to learn how to talk about uncomfortable things about your service experience and about issues that bother you.
- You get access to ideas and help about how to handle day-to-day challenges related to your trauma
- You learn to trust other people again
- Making new friends and connecting with others who understand your issues
- You get to hear about helpful new perspectives from others
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The department of veteran affairs and NAMI recommend different veteran communities and vet centers, including a few nonprofit options, that offer a variety of advocacy services to service members and their families. These include mental health services, medical center access, behavioral health care, dealing with sexual trauma, and other outreach veteran services to help combat vets.
SMART Recovery communities
This is a community for veterans dealing with addiction. Getting the right support is an important step to overcoming addiction, especially when it is related to combat trauma. In this type of veteran addiction recovery community, you will learn how to manage your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that lead you to use drugs.
Veterans PTSD communities
This is a type of community for veterans who develop post-traumatic stress disorder from their time in combat. This type of group mostly focuses on skill-building, suicide prevention, education, positive relationships, and offering any other type of support needed by the individuals. In this group, members learn how to deal with their trauma, get clinical help, and live a trauma-free life.
Veteran’s Caregiver Communities
This is a community open to caregivers, families, and spouses of veterans who care for their psychological and physical needs. These types of groups focus on offering a supportive and accepting environment where caregivers can come and discuss their needs, challenges, and journeys with fellow caregivers.
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Recommendations for the Best Veteran Communities
Wounded warrior project
The wounded warrior project is a veteran peer support group. With more than 113,000 registered members, this group gives you an extensive network of heroes just like you. The peer support groups take place in different states across America, where they cover veteran peer support group topics. It brings together veterans in need of support where fully-recovered vets can become peer group leaders to new members. A search for a ‘peer support group for veterans new me’ will give you access to information on the nearest peer support station.
The counseling center of Texas
The counseling center of Texas is a community for Texas people living with PTSD symptoms, including vets. It is open to anyone interested in benefiting from learning looking for acceptance, understanding, and support through a group setting. They also offer specialized groups for family members and caregivers for people living with PTSD.
KDAD behavioral health services
If you are a vet looking for a community for different trauma-related issues like mental health and substance abuse, KDAD behavioral health services support network caters to combat veterans going through such issues. Through this group, families can get information about dealing with a veteran loved one dealing with post-traumatic stress, depression, reintegration issues, and harmful thoughts. This community helps with coping skills and gives veterans hope for recovery.
While most veteran support communities cater to people of all genders with combat-related mental health issues or traumas, Men’s Group is a men-only online community that offers peer support to any veteran male looking to connect with other vets.
At Mensgroup.com, men are free to talk about anything. This is a forum for mutual acceptance, self-discovery, and understanding amongst peers. Participants can join chat rooms or meet with others through video calls. With MensGroup, you do not have to go through life after combat alone.
As an online community, you can be sure that there is an active veteran community session any time of the day. MensGroup ensures you have a support network available, even in this COVID time where physical meetings are not recommended.
Veterans often have a difficult time returning home after serving time in service. This often puts a lot of pressure on the veteran and veteran families. Living with combat trauma can disrupt your life and that of your family members. Being part of a veteran community can go a long way in ensuring the vet has access to important services, including benefits and medical assistance.
By joining a veteran community, you can get the help and support you need to overcome trauma, start a new life and live a healthy, fulfilled life after service. If you are interested in living a whole and complete life as a veteran, joining a veteran community like MensGroup is the first step to recovery.
*Sources: 1. Engaging and Serving the Veteran Community 2. Toward Veteran-Centered Research: A Veteran-Focused Community Engagement Project 3. Veterans Health and Well-Being—Collaborative Research Approaches: Toward Veteran Community Engagement 4. Enhancing Health Care in the Veteran Community Through Synergistic Research Funding 5. Veterans need 'friendly' communities to adjust to civilian life — here's how to make it happen