Many Veterans face uphill battle for mental health care
MINNEAPOLIS — Mental health is the primary health care concern of many Veterans facing homelessness.
MACV has a special team who Veterans say helped save their lives.
Army Veteran Lawrence Trafton’s mental health issues came after his time serving in Germany. His wife lost her fight with cancer, and the loss sent him on an unplanned journey.
“When she died, I went on a mission. I went for a walk and I just went basically homeless because I just didn’t want to deal with anything,” he said.
For months, he walked around without hope until he was introduced to MACV.
MACV’s Healthcare Navigation Manager Jessica Linnell said that making a connection and meeting people where they are is the key to helping with someone’s mental health.
Air Force Veteran Dennis Rivers, who has been homeless since 2017, said his life hit rock bottom when he got to Minnesota.
“I was working, but I was sleeping in my car,” he said. “I was going in and out of threatening to harm myself.”
MACV’s outreach team took Dennis out of his car and placed him into a hotel, and then temporary housing.
“The first thing they told me is ‘we want you to get your health together, don’t worry about nothing else.’ They made sure I was on my meds and I always had someone to talk to and I was always around positive people,” he said.
Along with housing, MACV also works to lower the number of Veteran suicides, which is currently about 17 a day.
“Death by suicide in the Veteran community is an epidemic and we do believe that we in our work are reducing that risk because we know that evidence-based therapy for anxiety, depression, PTSD, reduces suicidality,” said Linnell.
Rivers said MACV helped him get stable when he thought he was unstable.
“They helped me through my mental issues that I was having,” Trafton said. MACV eventually set him up with a psychiatrist.
You can help MACV’s mission right now by donating to our Home for the Holidays campaign. Every dollar counts, and whatever you donate Wednesday will be matched up to $100,000 by a private foundation. Forty dollars will help a Veteran with housing support for one day, and $175 will pay for a family’s groceries for one week. Just text MACVORG to 44321 or go online to wcco.com/holidays to make a donation.