Marysville News

New program designed to help veterans transition

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Rich Johnson knows the troubles of transitioning from military life to being a civilian.

The U.S. Air Force veteran said he gained great skills in the military, but had a hard time translating them to the private sector.

He eventually figured it out and as the president and CEO of Dublin-based ViaQuest, Johnson recently brought the company's new Recovery and Reintegration of Veterans program to Ohio.

The program will focus on getting veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries help with employment, a place to live and mental and physical health services.

"We have a complete vision dedicated to services for veterans and not only know first-hand what it's like to be separating from the service and come out with skills very applicable to service to your country, but what it's like trying to get those skills to translate to the private sector," he said. "There are a lot of barriers to that. A lot of obstacles."

ViaQuest, a healthcare company that provides services for veterans, home health, hospice and mental and behavioral health, among others, has been helping connect veterans with employment, residential and behavioral health services for years.

Art Miller, director of veterans' services for ViaQuest, said the idea for the program came about when he met Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, medical director of rehabilitation services at Memorial Hospital of Union County in Marysville.

"It was a small-world, meant to be scenario," he said of their introduction through veterans. "She has been working within the veterans service division ... ."

According to Miller, Gordon has been working at army bases throughout the country, focusing on getting military members with PTSD or who have traumatic brain injuries the services they need before they leave the military, which is similar to ViaQuest's work.

Sometimes military members with PTSD or a traumatic brain injury leave the military and only get services after they spiral down, facing homelessness, breaking the law or becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, Miller said.

With the help of Gordon, ViaQuest wants to reach veterans before that happens.

"It's frightening to me that over 73 percent of all soldiers who suffer from (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD have never received care at a (Veterans Administration) facility," Miller said.

Gordon helped ViaQuest's RRVT program get into Fort Bragg where the program has been helping soldiers receive employment, residential and health services before they transition from the army so a support network is in place, Miller said.

"The partnership with ViaQuest, whose highly specialized team strives to provide a suite of services for veterans, will result in aiding hundreds of military professionals in the first year," Gordon said.

Johnson sees a better future for veterans as the RRVT program prepares them for the change to civilian life.

"This is extremely important," he said.

"We have a lot of dedicated people who have served their country for our freedom and have selflessly acted on our behalf," Johnson said.

"When I went into the service I thought it would be very easy to integrate back into life. It wasn't as easy as I have anticipated."

Along with providing services at Fort Bragg, Miller hopes to see expansion at other bases throughout the country, but will be careful with growth.

"The need numbers are large," he said. "We don't want to enter into making a commitment and become another source of frustration because we're not ready."

The RRVT program is, however, ready to come to Ohio and is available to veterans and reservists at no cost.

The treatment is paid for through a number of sources such as insurance, government agencies and grants.

To learn more about the program or access RRVT services call Zach Asman, U.S. Air Force veteran and assistant director of ViaQuest Veteran Services, at 937-243-3881, or look online at http://www.viaquestinc.com/specialized-services/veterans-services/rrvt-rrvp-programs/.