On Veterans Day, People throughout the nation can pay tribute to those that have fought for and proceed to struggle for the liberty of this nation.
However for somebody like Erika Behm, it her mission in life to not solely pay tribute to those that have defended this nation however to additionally be certain that these veterans returning house from the battlefields are given the right care, consideration and medicine essential to return to a considerably calmer and “down-to-earth” lifestyle.
Behm, who was a visitor speaker this summer time on the Lenawee County Truthful’s annual Veteran of the 12 months program, holds the job title of a veteran navigator. She is at present employed with the Neighborhood Psychological Well being Partnership of Southeast Michigan, which reaches out to and serves these in Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe and Washtenaw counties.
Considered one of 17 veteran navigators throughout the whole state of Michigan, it’s the mission of Behm and people different 16 navigators to help veterans within the adjustment interval from warfare time to time again at house. She has solely been a veteran navigator for 3 years, however in that point of service she has assisted within the transition of 132 veterans.
Seventy of these veterans she assisted have been Lenawee County residents. Of these 70 veterans, 27 of them have been identified as suicidal, she stated, even after being again house for a while.
“That adjustment interval is so crucial,” she stated. “It clearly varies from person-to-person, however it’s so essential to observe and hold monitor of.”
One factor that Behm stated she can not stress sufficient is for struggling veterans, and even these relations who’re having attempting occasions as properly, to achieve out for assist. It’s there.
“Someone ought to by no means should stroll alone,” she stated. “There may be help and there’s completely not a incorrect time to name and attain out.”
Behm has assisted people throughout all hours of the day, noting that in her occupation, there usually are not essentially “9-to-5” workdays.
Considered one of her most attempting, but resilient occasions, was when bother hit near him.
Her father served within the Vietnam Battle in 1968, Behm stated. He returned house the very subsequent yr and all appeared properly with reference to his transition. It wasn’t till the yr 1998 —almost 30 years later — that her father had been professionally identified with having post-traumatic stress dysfunction (PTSD). He was quickly taken to the psychological well being ward at Herrick Memorial Hospital in Tecumseh for therapy.
Veterans Affairs packages assisted Behm’s father in his ongoing therapy course of. On some events, his psychological well being help would final for 3 consecutive days. Different occasions, it might last as long as 90 days. It simply trusted his private progress.
“Some days have been a lot better than others,” she stated.
Behm stated her father additionally suffered from substance abuse points, solely the substance he craved was pure adrenaline.
“He had that insatiable want to finish the mission he was assigned to all of these years in the past,” she stated. “He was misplaced for all of these years when he got here again house. He was scared and he was in search of any individual to assist him out.”
After almost six years of ongoing therapy, Behm’s father was cleared and was in a position to depart the care of the hospital. One of many first issues he, Behm and lots of fast relations did was partake in a return to Vietnam.
Twenty-five different Vietnam-era veterans additionally went on the return trek, every of them reuniting with brothers who they fought side-by-side with 36 years prior. A few of them didn’t even know one another, Behm stated, however have been pleased to be within the firm of fellow servicemen.
Behm described the reunion of troopers as one among her greatest life-changing occasions, and one the place she noticed what forgiveness and therapeutic regarded like firsthand.
“Every one among them understood the opposite,” she stated. “It’s a second I’ll always remember.”
Since that return go to to Vietnam in 2004, Behm went on to earn her social work diploma. She, along with her father alongside her, continues to be sure that veterans returning house from warfare obtain fast help of any sort.
Regionally, she gave excessive quantities of reward to the Veterans Affairs workplace and its employees from Lenawee County, calling them a “dynamite” group of individuals.
“Locally you’re fashioned is the neighborhood wherein you’ll heal,” she stated. “Please don’t stroll alone. There may be help right here at house, and there’s no incorrect time to name or attain out.”
It took a while, however Behm noticed firsthand how her father turned issues round in his life, post-Vietnam.
“My dad is corrected,” she stated. “And he’s serving out a brand new mission in life.”