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Mt. Carmel offers veterans and their families life-saving mental health treatment

Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-23 08:00:04-05

Retired Air Force Major Sean Sindler holds back tears as he talks about the often tough transition from military to civilian life.

"You don't have to think that just because your military service ended that you have nothing left," said Sindler.

That's where Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center steps in. As part of one of many services they provide, their staff help with that transition.

"I didn't really know if I would be successful in that transition or whether I'd be happy in a new career, whether the wounds of my military service were going to impact my life and my ability to success afterwards," Sindler said.

Some of those invisible wounds for Sindler came from combat.

"I flew over the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq in the Awaqs," said Sindler. "When I was enlisted I was on the ground in Iraq as a communication person."

Sindler originally came to Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center in need of free legal advice. Since then, he and his family have used many programs including behavioral health.

"(We are) holistically there for veterans," said Mt. Carmel Director of Behavioral Health Kirsten Belaire. "The military as a culture doesn't focus so much on feelings and emotions, it focuses more on the ability to complete the mission."

Belaire and her team focus on the mind, body and spirit of each person who walks through their doors. That may mean traditional or alternative therapies.

"We have no cost retreats, we partner with equine therapy, we have tai chi, trauma informed yoga, music jam, art expressions, we even have acupuncture downstairs," Belaire said. "We're going to try to do anything to help people not hit that stopping point."

Belaire wants people to know they're ready to help.

"We offer our services to active duty, guard, reserve, veterans and veterans regardless of discharge status, era of service or length of service and their families," said Belaire. "That can extend out to significant others, grandparents, in-laws, whoever is impacted."

It's lifesaving work she knows is making a big difference.

"I know that it's saving lives because we have people that come in who have daily or multiple times daily suicide ideations, they have plans, they have means, and down the road you are asking them, 'Do you have any ideations?' and they are like, 'Nope, nope' week after week,'' Belaire said.

That's why veterans like Sindler encourage anyone listening to make the choice to show up at Mt. Carmel and ask for help.

"That willingness to get help when you need it is really that thing that creates success stories," Sindler said.

Mt. Carmel is also part of a veteran suicide prevention pilot program. It's called "Next Chapter" and the services are free to veterans and their families. It includes things like substance use relationship counseling and crisis support. For more information call 1-888-719-VETS.

Remember if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide there's help available 24-7. Just dial 9-8-8 from your phone. You'll be connected to the suicide and crisis lifeline.

Should you like to support Mount Carmel and their mission you can donate here.

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