Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

If the Department of Veteran’s Affairs isn’t cutting it, then these groups can help


The USMC Color Guard waiting to parade the colors at the Fullerton College Veteran’s Week opening ceremony. Photo by Ian Barr

By: Otis McReah

When I left the military I was eager to embrace the world. I put the blinders on and charged fearlessly toward goals I didn’t even have. But I kept wondering why I was ending up back at my starting point.

Then I thought there must be something more serious going on. My nerves were shot. When I was enlisted and not feeling well, I went on sick call to the ship’s doctor. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs was the new Doc. 

When I went to the VA’s mental health clinic, they told me that I was somewhere between bi-polar and schizo-effective, so I did what I did when Doc would tell me what was wrong—I took their word for it and went back to what I was doing. The problem here was that I was no longer in a world that spanned all of 509 feet with nothing to do but work, sleep and read. 

Going about your business when you are not doing well is a band-aid we are constantly applying and reapplying in the military. But if the wound is deep and infected that wound won’t heal and you need to get real help. For me, all those wounds that I kept putting band-aids on really started to fester when I left. Self-medicating every time you hit a port is a practice you learn on deployment. Then I learned it doesn’t work so well when you get out and you are permanently in port.

If any of my situation sounds familiar to the reader, the best advice I can give you is not to let your pride guide you. Don’t allow yourself to neglect resources and don’t be too proud to seek them out. Ask other veterans. Look for vets that are doing well and moving forward and ask them if they’ll share their stories and advice with you. If the services at the VA aren’t doing enough for you, there are other resources available.

A temporary wall erected on the Fullerton College Campus memorializes the veterans of the Global War On Terror that did not survive the adjustment to civilian life. Photo by Ian Barr

Vet Centers

In 1979, Vet Centers were established by Congress with the goal of helping the many veterans that were struggling in the readjustment process. They provide individual and group counseling, bereavement counseling, and screening for mental illness and traumatic brain injury. They can also aid vets who struggle with navigating benefits available to us.

The Garden Grove Vet Center has a unique way of helping Veterans in crisis. Standard practice  at the VA is to call the police when someone is in crisis mode so they won’t hurt themselves or others. Sometimes this makes things worse, and the Vet Center in Garden Grove recognizes this. Instead of automatically calling the police, the Vet Center employs a Marine Corps veteran who is trained to help vets in crisis.

Warrior Scholar Project

In the military, we learn a form of discipline in the military that doesn’t translate directly to an academic environment for everyone. If you fall into the latter category, as I did, going to school may come with it’s struggles. 

Warrior Scholar Project was founded by three Yale classmates to aid veterans in the transition from military to student life. It brings veterans to Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale and Cornell for a couple of weeks and offers programs in Humanities, STEM (Science and Mathematics) and markets/business ventures. 

The program is 100% free and includes lodging and meals. The only thing you need to provide is the transportation, and the school you are already attending be able to foot the bill for that.

American Legion

Operation Comfort Warrior is a program started by the American Legion to provide disabled veterans with comfort items. The VA’s budget doesn’t cover certain items can play a vital role in therapy for vets coping with injuries and wounds sustained in service to their country.

The program is donation based and provides items necessary for occupational therapy and rehabilitation. If you think you might qualify for this program you can apply through the American Legion’s website. 

The Worth Saving Task Force is another of the American Legion’s programs and it is intended to help women veterans get access to gender-specific healthcare and connect them with additional resources, such as childcare and counseling for trauma related to sexual assault experienced in the military.

Mission Continues

Mission Continues operates on the idea that there are vets (and non-vets) who want to help, and there are communities out there that need the help. They send out teams to perform such tasks as renovating schools, cleaning up parks and community areas and building playgrounds. It fosters camaraderie among veterans and is also a great way for civilians to contribute to the veteran community.