Hampton VA Medical Center
Veteran "X" and Veteran "Hope"
The recent graduation of Veteran “X” and Veteran “Hope” was a celebration of the road to recovery. The event, which took place in the Hampton VA Medical Center (VAMC) Domiciliary, offered opportunity for Veterans to share their personal challenges and triumphs with an audience of supporters. Veteran participants provided personal insight of their journeys and ~ as they did ~ audience members smiled and erupted into thunderous applause as the Veterans’ stories unfolded.
During the celebration, Veterans explained how they had come from “no hope, no dreams, and no future.” Stories of homelessness and mental health struggles were some of the concerns that participants spoke about as they voiced their determination to “move their lives from the dark into the light.” Volunteering, creating websites, embracing faith and building strong families were successes Veterans proudly shared as they stood at the podium.
“I’m so proud of these Veterans,” said Thomas Pratt, the Hampton VAMC peer counselor who developed the innovative program. “It’s wonderful how we come together to give group support and they all can contribute.”
The Veteran “X” program is a peer-led group for all Veterans to attend. This fictitious male Veteran challenges with an abundance of social issues that are not easily resolved in today’s society. The purpose of the group is to enhance one’s hope that their own recovery can be achieved by setting long term goals and working through them in a spirited concept through the character. In the end, the program allows Veterans to actively participate in their own treatment plan.
Veteran “Hope” is the sister group of Veteran “X” ~ a fictitious female Veteran who has a written ongoing scenario. As the group assists Veteran “Hope” in resolving and overcoming the many social issues that female Veteran’s face, group participants begin to find resources and tools that will ensure their own pathway to recovery. Veteran “Hope” is unique for women because it gives them voice, hope, and tools for the future.
“This is especially important with the rising number of female Veterans enrolled at the Hampton VAMC,” said Pratt. “The goal is, eventually, to take this entire program nationally so that our Veterans can benefit all over the country.”
Drawings created by the Veterans of the “Before” and “After” treatment of both “X” and “Hope” were presented to the audience. They served as another way of representing the successes of the program as well as individual successes the Veterans were able to achieve.