Back in 2011, I was an active-duty Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force. At the time, I was dealing with several stressful situations at once with no guidance or mentorship on how to deal with them. I recall the stress of a rocky marriage, raising a son with autism, and struggling through the doctoral dissertation process, and experiencing rocket attacks while deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan - all at the same time.
My desperation led me to dig into research and materials to help me find the inner strength I knew I had and the healthy practices to take control over my roller-coaster ride of emotions and, ultimately, my entire life.
Before joining Banyan Treatment Centers, I built a for-profit coaching business, called Uplift Energy Coaching, and its nonprofit counterpart, Uplift In-Powerment to work with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) veterans on learning self-leadership skills to uplift themselves. I wanted to assist them overcoming the façade they put up. I witnessed that we sometimes act like we are squared away and are “dress right dress”, and we’re not.
When we have mental and emotional stress, it can cause physical fitness issues. When we were in the military, it didn’t matter what we were going through; we still had to pass the physical fitness test twice a year. Once we leave the military, we tend to get out of shape and that can lead to mental and emotional issues.
I’m passionate about helping BIPOC veterans because as one myself, I understand the unique struggles that are being faced and often not dealt with correctly. Because of the narrow focus, I felt that the people who most need my assistance will feel more comfortable and accepted.
We need to get together with people on issues you can talk about among each other and not feel like we’re being judged. It’s important to have a safe space to talk about the disparities. When our Black veterans came back from Vietnam, they had organizations they could join then, but you can only imagine the tension that was there 50 years ago. Fast forward to 2022, and we still have these veterans out there and they are lonely, they don’t have anyone to share their stories with, they don’t have the camaraderie and the esprit de corps that they miss.
This safe space for BIPOC veterans – male and female – to rebuild that camaraderie is critical in getting what they need in terms of their benefits, because many were not able to do that years ago. There was systemic discrimination and racism that did not allow our veterans to get their VA benefits. I strive to be an advocate, to be their voice when they don’t have a voice, to help them get the benefits they are entitled to as many were shut out and just gave up.
Our Banyan rehab locations each offers a Military and Veterans in Recovery program to help both past and active-duty service members overcome addiction and mental illness. From medically monitored detox to individual and group therapy programs, our specialists work one-on-one with our clients to offer them a unique and effective treatment experience.
If you or a loved one is a veteran or active-duty member and needs help with substance abuse or mental illness, our mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities. Call Banyan Treatment Center today at 888-280-4763 to learn how to get started.