MADISON, Wis. (AP) ~ A nonprofit in Wisconsin will start the nation’s first peer-run respite home specifically for veterans through a more than $300,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Mental Health America of Wisconsin is looking for a location in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Veterans would be able to stay at the home for free for up to five nights.
“The trauma that veterans experience is unique,” said Brian Michel, director of prevention services for the nonprofit. “And also the demographics of the veteran status seem to transcend all other factors. They’re a Marine before they’re a certain race. Veteran status comes first because that personal identity has been broken down more than somebody who is a civilian and has not been in the military.”
The respite won’t provide clinical services, but staff will receive training on being peer counselors and veteran-specific training regarding post-traumatic stress disorder, Michel said. The service will help veterans regroup and connect with health services or treatment, he said.
One of the center’s main goals is to prevent suicide. Male veterans are twice as likely as civilians to kill themselves, while the suicide rate among female veterans has increased by 40% over the last decade, according to the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Secretary Mary Kolar estimates that half of veterans in the state aren’t being connected to services that help with finances, health care and housing.
Gov. Tony Evers has proposed in his budget to continue using revenue from veterans’ homes to fund some veterans programs. He’s also asked lawmakers to approve $15.8 million in general purpose revenue while the Wisconsin Department of Health Services works toward a long-term solution.
Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org