CIC eNews Winter 2015 Issue


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Winter 2015 Issue

 Peer Support


VA Peer Specialists: Trusted Companions on the Road to Recovery


Guest blog by Lisa Goodale, MSW, LSW, Vice President, Peer Support Services at Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)


It’s a story all too familiar to people who care about Veterans experiencing mental health problems and addictions: Veterans who “don’t have a problem” or won’t ask for help; Veterans who feel alone and resist being labeled; Veterans who seek services at the VA but quickly become frustrated and confused and give up.


To help address these and other challenges, the Department of Veterans Affairs has created a new workforce of Peer Specialists: Veterans who have experienced mental health conditions and addictions themselves, and who are now actively engaged in their own recovery. The Peer Specialist understands the frustrations, the despair, and the self-doubt that come with these conditions and can help other Veterans move forward proactively to address their barriers. Peer Specialists do not replace VA clinicians, but serve as an important connection: walking alongside the Veteran, helping him/her identify available resources and treatments, and serving as role models. This diverse group of individuals includes male and female Veterans from all eras and all service branches.


As national contractor to the VA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has trained and certified hundreds of Peer Specialists. To learn more about Peer Specialists, visit To find a VA Peer Specialist in your area, contact your local VA facility and ask to speak to a Peer Specialist, or contact the facility’s Local Recovery Coordinator.


Coaching Into Care can help you navigate these resources and help you support a Veteran on his/her road to recovery. Give us a call at (888) 823-7458 Monday through Friday 8 am to 8 pm Eastern.



VA Expands Eligibility for VA Health Care Related to Military Sexual Trauma

12/01/2014 11:06 AM EST

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), under authority from the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 ('VACAA'), today announced expanded eligibility for Veterans in need of mental health care due to sexual assault or sexual harassment that occurred during their military service. This trauma is commonly known as military sexual trauma (MST). 



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The following is based on a real case that illustrates the work CIC does. All identifying information has been changed.


Hugo called CIC for help getting his wife to stop drinking. She was a 55-year-old Navy Veteran for whom alcohol had been a problem for many years. Although she was enrolled at the VA, she primarily used private medical insurance. Hugo was at the end of his rope and was worried that he may need to divorce Karen if she didn't get help.


He began working with a coach to educate himself about alcohol abuse and dependence and what treatment options were available. He was encouraged to start where the Veteran was at and look for opportunities to elicit “change talk” when possible. He was referred to tools on web sites such as Rethinking Drinking and Make the Connection which he shared with her.


In coaching, he explored and practiced ways of approaching his wife about his concerns.  He worked on accepting her pace of change and found opportunities to encourage her to seek medical advice as part of her own decision-making process.  By respecting her choice and autonomy, he was able to reduce her resistance to the idea of change.


Over time, Hugo was successful in getting her to agree to address her drinking by making an appointment at the VA.  At the same time, it became apparent that his own drinking was problematic and was something he had been in denial about initially. With his coach's guidance, he was able to make a decision to seek care himself.  Now, over a year after Hugo’s initial call to CIC, both Hugo and Karen are engaged in substance abuse treatment at the VA.


When a Veteran you know needs help, please call Coaching Into Care at (888) 823-7458 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.

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Make the Connection


CA Site

MEET A SITE: CA STAFF FROM RIGHT TO LEFT: Coach/Call Responders Amber Walser, Psy.D., and Jennifer Picanso, BA; Site Director Shirley Glynn, Ph.D.; Site Lead/Coach Marleen Urbaitis, Ph.D.; Coach Shelley Tom, Ph.D.; Coach/Call Responder John DeVincent, Psy.D. 

Laughter and Play

You’ve heard that “laughter is the best medicine.” It brings joy, vitality and resilience and helps us cope with the harshest of realities. We certainly deal with enough sadness and tragedy, as have the Veterans and their loved ones for whom it is our mission to serve.

So, we thought we’d start this year off with a prescription to remember to be silly, goof off, don’t take yourself too seriously, and laugh, laugh, laugh!

Laughter releases stress from the body and mind and engages the whole brain, similar to meditation. Research shows again and again the health benefits of laughter and play.

Read More>>



"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


 The MLK Day of Service is part of United We Serve and your chance to start the year off right by making an impact in your community.


 Use these Toolkits to plan for the Day of Service, or check with your local VA.


CIC would like to thank and recognize colleagues who collaborated with us to promote or arrange care for our families and their Veterans:

  • Conrad Osby, Transition Patient Advocate, Greater Los Angeles Health Care System
  • Amanda Wozniak, Director of Advocacy and Collaboration, South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
  • Beth M. Juachon, Military Services Coordinator/Outreach, VA Regional Office, San Diego
  • David Schafer, Ph.D., Mental Health Chief, Greater Los Angeles Health Care System
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