Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
Last month, seven Veterans completed peer-to-peer facilitator training as part of the Providence VAMC's efforts to help returning Veterans (and Veterans new to the VA system) navigate the VA and obtain services that suit their recovery needs.
This Vet-to-Vet program offers peer-to-peer support to Veterans of all eras, including those who are now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program focuses on strenghtening advocacy, using shared experiences as a means to foster recovery, and engaging Veterans who otherwise may not be willing to receive services and advance recovery. Peers offer each other an understanding that comes from having experienced a similar situation or problem. Through the use of modeling techniques, the facilitators are given opportunities to show and demonstrate how they have handled similar problems, how they have presented themselves in certain (similar) situations, or how to handle
problems that may arise when interacting with others.
The importance of Vet-to-Vet peer support is that these Veterans often trust and talk to a fellow Veteran before they will speak to a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or VA doctor. Veterans in a facilitator role are not expected to replace a licensed provider; rather they assist in obtaining services that suit that individual’s recovery needs by providing names of staff, community resources, and groups that may be useful. Community resources may include access to VA benefits, educational funding, family and child services, local YMCA, library services, service organizations, housing, community integration, and outreach to the homeless and to those reintegrating into society after experiencing a period of incarceration.
Recovery is the mending process that reweaves human beings back into the fabric of our society,
and peer support is a critical ingredient of recovery.
For more information about the Vet-to-Vet Peer Support Program or about PVAMC's Veterans Recovery Resource Program (VRRC), please contact Denise Fragoza at (401) 273-7100, ext. 3413.