Veteran Henry Howard Recounts VA Support Services on the Road to Recovery
Henry Howard joined the Georgia National Guard while in high school. After graduating in 1985, a recruiter helped him transition into the military. His 20-year military career began as an infantryman and he retired as a Fort Knox trainer.
He believes that his coaching position allowed him to hide a personal secret. “I thought I really managed to hide a lot of things that were going on with me mentally,” he said.
After leaving the military, he worked as a salesman, which led to management as an assistant store manager. While working on the cash registers, Howard often found his body numb and he lost track of time and space.
He had an episode that took him to the emergency room. In 2018, a colleague advised him to seek help. “I had done my best to hide my mental health issues,” he said. “I tried Tricare and tried to juggle my job and my problems, and failed. At this point, I was ready to die.
After losing his health coverage and encountering other family-related difficulties, Howard turned to Atlanta VA because he felt it was his only option.
To feel that he was heard
“I got to a point where I said, ‘I’m done. Then a voice told me to call the crisis hotline and that kind of got the ball rolling,” he said. After explaining his situation to peer support specialist Benton Willis, he began to feel heard and it gave him a boost of confidence.
“Mr. Willis walked in my shoes and he knows how to get people talking and sharing,” Howard said. “He provides some of the best advice. moved me into a more normalized way of thinking. He had genuine care and concern for me. He promised that he would make sure I got a call from the right person who could help me.
The next day, Howard got a call from someone he said really helped him. It was Lamecia Eaddy, a social worker from Atlanta VA.
How the mental health team can improve the lives of veterans
“She was on the phone with me for a long time,” he continued. “It allowed me to treat. Then she put me in touch with a psychiatrist who prescribed me the right medicine. She offered me impeccable guidance, advice and support. She put me in contact with Chaplain Coleman who directed me to biblical counseling, working on my issues.I felt very comfortable with Chaplain Coleman.
“Although initially worried, Mr. Howard demonstrated a strong drive for improvement by taking the risk of trusting the treatment provided by his VA mental health providers,” Eaddy said. “Seeing his smile and hearing about his progress during telehealth sessions is worth serving. His recovery truly exemplifies how the collaborative partnership between a veteran and their mental health team can improve an individual’s life.
“My message to veterans would be: don’t stop, don’t give up. »
“I so want VA authorities to know how much of an impact his services have had on me,” Howard said. “After all, I wouldn’t be alive today if not for the efforts of the Veterans Crisis Line, Ms. Eaddy, Mr. Willis and the mental health team assigned to me.”
Howard receives most of his care from the Stockbridge VA clinic and commits to his health plan to serve as an ambassador for what he calls “My VA”.
“Here I am today,” he added. “I try not to miss any of my sessions or meetings. I’m happy with the state I’m in and the direction I’m going. I was transformed into a new person, a much better person than five or ten years ago. My message to veterans would be don’t stop, don’t give up. Seek help from others so you can access the next level of the VA chain.
You do not need to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to call. The Veteran Crisis Line connects veterans and service members in crisis, and their families and friends, with trained and caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free phone line, online chat or of an SMS. Dial 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.