Participant Stories: Tim

Tim had been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Pakistan as a forward deployed engineer. If there was a problem in the army, navy, marines, or any branch, his team would be sent to fix the problem. He completed two tours in the Middle East in 2004 and 2005-2006.

When he returned home, Tim realized that he was “at the height of being alert all the time.” He began having confrontations with individuals in his neighborhood, at work and, ultimately, with the police. “All my anger and frustration came to a head and I didn’t know how to channel it. I had no avenue to channel it.” He had no one to talk to about his experiences and although he tried to get services at the VA, he felt that he had gotten lost in the system. “When I went overseas, I had to change to a combat zone. Now, I come back to the civilian world, now I need to declassify myself and become a civilian again. And that’s very hard.”

While in a house of corrections, Tim’s lawyer discovered MISSION-DIRECT VET (Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach and Networking-Diversion and Recovery for Traumatized Veterans), a federally funded jail diversion program. Although Tim was initially waiting for a possible sentence of five years in prison, the judge reduced his sentence to three years of probation and one year in MISSION-DIRECT VET.

With the help of his case manager and peer support specialist, Tim began to control his temper and manage his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, anger and frustration. In both individual sessions and groups settings, he was able to talk about his experiences and learn new ways of handling challenges. They helped “me come to terms with what is really bothering me.”

Under the MISSION-DIRECT VET system, Tim addressed his substance use and anxiety, maintained recovery, connected with medical treatment for chronic pain, improved his communication skills, and become “a whole person again.” “I’m very thankful this program exists. The program has allowed me to get on with my life. It has allowed me to put my head back on my shoulders and come back to civilization.”