Organizations partner to provide free support for veterans

Many people look forward to spending time with family and friends over the holidays, but it can be a struggle for some
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 4:41 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Many people look forward to spending time with family and friends over the holidays, but it can be a struggle for some.

Coastal Horizons recently partnered with Save A Vet Now, a local non-profit working to help veterans wrestling with mental health struggles.

“As a veteran myself, I, too, understand the struggles. Like we don’t want to raise our hands and say we need help because sometimes in the military we have a stigma where it’s a sign of weakness and I always tell individuals, I tell my clients today, it’s a sign of courage we can only make you stronger, can only make you better,” said Coastal Horizons Telemental Health Therapist Justin Gibson.

Gibson is helping fellow veterans because he knows what these men and women go through, especially this time of year.

“The holidays can really highlight the negative for loneliness, isolation, the inability to be around family and friends. Things like that and then it starts bringing up old memories. That stuff starts happening, it really magnifies whatever they’re dealing with,” Gibson said.

Tony Vivaldi with Save A Vet Now is also a veteran and knows first hand what some of those struggles are.

“They miss their tribe, they long for the life they lived in that protected military bubble with brothers and sisters knowing you had their back. They’re worried that public knowledge of their condition could keep them from getting a job they want or, even worse, lose the job they already have,” Vivaldi said. “It’s hard for them to admit they have problems, it’s hard for them to ask for help. We train them to be warriors, they don’t want to be seen as weak or unreliable. So many of them suffer in silence daily — anxiety attacks and flashbacks or nightmares.”

But since this partnership began, veterans are finding out that there are more people and organizations that also have their back.

“We’ve serviced 31 different veterans and their spouses who have had 355 claims against our veterans outreach program, so we’re starting to make an impact,” Vivaldi said. “I’m over the moon about that because getting veterans to ask for help has proved to be quite a challenge and I think it contributes to the continuation of this crisis, so if we can continue to make this connection things are looking good for the future.”

Coastal Horizons is providing mental health support and help for crisis intervention and substance abuse.

The new partnership will cover any co-pay, self-pay, prescription or transportation costs a veteran would need to pay.

“Try not to go it alone if you are having issues or dealing with mental health. Please don’t try to think that you can just push through. Reach out for help, it’s here,” Gibson said.

Coastal Horizons Veterans Outreach Program:

New Hanover 910-343-0145

Brunswick 910-754-4515

Pender 910-259-0668

Mobile Crisis Team 1-866-437-1821

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255*

*By July 16, 2022 the three-digit 988 suicide prevention line should be active through all phone service providers.

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