Mission Statement: Vet to Vet is a mutual peer support group meeting addressing veteran concerns; emotional, spiritual, educational, vocational and transitional needs of veterans and their families.
Vet to Vet Group Composition:
- Each component (Active, Reserve, and Guard)and branch of service (Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard)
- Combat and peacetime vets
- Officer, Warrant, and Enlisted
Peer Support Group Purpose: Veterans share a common purpose, language, and code of conduct. Often veterans are reluctant to share their experiences unless it is with another veteran. Sharing one’s story supports life review and healing.
Facilitator Qualifications: The volunteer must be; one who has served in the military; maintains own well-being, respect confidentiality, honest, dependable, flexible, and a good listener; will bring their military training, experience and history to the group. Veteran facilitator volunteers are in the unique position to understand the veteran’s story that makes the possibility of a deep emotional bond possible that opens doors of trust.
Influenced by: Combat or non-combat experience, which war they served, if they were wounded, POW or have PTSD, branch of service, rank, and whether they were enlisted or officer.
Resources: Group facilitators should familiarize themselves with veteran issues, community connections, and community resources. The Veterans Administration provides a manual in how to begin and conduct a Vet to Vet program under the auspices of the VA. Visit the Vet to Vet USA website for more information.
For the Veteran Facilitator Volunteer, several factors to consider:
- Make the environment safe
- Listen carefully and without judgment
- Invite the veteran to share their sacred story
- Open the door, but do not push
- Express appreciation for their service of country
- Celebrate their accomplishments with them
- Affirm what they have learned and the growth that has resulted
- Offer camaraderie
- Keep focus on each veteran not just you
- The veteran’s experience may be different than yours
- Female veterans also see/experience trauma. Also, may have been sexually assaulted.
- Have self-awareness of own journey and awareness of losses
- Recognize own military training and experiences that effect thoughts and emotions
- Communicate and collaborate with other community Veteran Facilitator Volunteers
Veteran Facilitator Volunteer Responses:
- Provide transportation
- Assist veterans in reminiscing/telling life stories
- Make regular visits
- Provide telephone assurance calls
- Educate and assist in receiving veteran benefits
Faith Community’s Supporting Veteran Facilitator Volunteers:
- Be aware of signs a Veteran Facilitator Volunteer having negative reactions or experiences
- Reaction could be the Volunteer withdrawing from the group
- Volunteer may become depressed
- Volunteer may relive his/her experience with the hearing of group member’s sharing their own
- Volunteer may have flashbacks or emotional arousal and reaction
- Recognize the Volunteers during special times of the year (Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day)