There have been more frequent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and shorter periods at home between deployments that have affected families in different ways than wars of the past. National Guard and Reserve members here in Texas and across the United States have been called away from their homes and jobs for unprecedented periods, affecting both their families and the communities that have gone without their service and their economic contributions.
Almost half of the 2.5 million veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq were deployed more than once. Many more Americans have been affected as spouses, parents, children, and friends: they have each coped with their loved ones’ absence and worried for their safety.
While resilience is real, the burdens of these wars that have fallen on veterans and their families include higher rates of suicide, increased drug and alcohol dependence, depression and post traumatic stress, elevated levels of homelessness and divorce, and clinical levels of stress among the children.
The Family Support Services Mission statement is "to empower individuals and families through comprehensive advocacy, education, and intervention services." As part of fulfilling that mission for our veterans and their families, FSS has applied for, and received, a Texas Veterans Commission grant to renovate a space that formerly housed Center City Child Care (which was closed several years ago and has remained empty) and transform it into a Veteran Drop-In Center to support our veterans.
This drop-in center, which will be known as the ASSIST (Armed Services Supportive Interventions, Skills, and Trainings) Center, will be staffed by a peer-support trained veteran and will provide veterans of all ages and their family members with the opportunity to meet and support their peers, apply for benefits, and receive referrals to other resources. It will also provide veterans and family members with a wide variety of best-practices therapies, including trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, equine therapy, marriage and family counseling, and more.
FSS will also partner with and provide office space in the ASSIST Center for other local organizations that provide veterans services; the goal is for the Center to be a resource center for veterans and their families. Coordinating with other agencies allows for:
- Eliminating redundancy of efforts.
- Creating additional entry points for Veterans and family members to receive accurate information and access benefits and services.
- Pooling of resources.
- Extending the reach of ASSIST resources
The ASSIST Center will include staffing by Veterans, for Veterans and their families, and will be a place where veterans can feel comfortable interacting with their peers to learn about accessing resources and services for their benefit. If you would like more information about this project, or if you or your agency would like to partner in this project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 806-342-2500.