A new group has been established to offer support for the special challenges that veterans face. Veterans for Veterans CT meets twice a month at the Mount Carmel Christian Church in North Haven and is open to new members looking for a community with a unique understanding of life as a veteran.
“These are veterans who don’t need medication or a psychologist, they just need to talk and other veterans are the best ones for them to talk too,” said Senior Pastor, Rev. Don Rivers at Mount Carmel Christian Church.
Rivers said the group started out of a request from veterans in his parish, who found there was a need. While the group meets at the church, it is not religious based. Rivers, who is not a veteran himself, says he is just there to “keep the group moving in a positive direction”.
The group consists of veterans from all different wars, including Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They talk about the everyday struggles they are facing, such as when the government was shut down. They discussed what would happened when Nov. 1 came and the disability check didn’t,” Rivers said. “It helped for them to know they are not alone.”
Rivers adds, with the staggering statistics of suicide of veterans reported at 22 suicides a day, he hopes “if this group can prevent just one”, it will have made a difference and been a catalyst for hope.
In the future, he would like to offer a mentorship program for those getting back in the workforce, which would teach skills such as balancing checkbooks and interviewing. Eventually, he would like to create halfway house for veterans facing homelessness.
“Some of them don’t assimilate back into society very well after being told what to do every minute of their day. They have had all these decisions made for them and now they are lost,” Rivers said.
In the spring, Rivers would like to expand the meetings to include activities the members enjoy, but right now, he says about letting the veterans know the group is here to help.
“We just want to reach out and hold onto a brother or sister and give them a sense of value and hope again.”
Veterans for Veterans CT meet on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, at 8 a.m. at Mount Carmel Christian Church, 5100 Ridge Road. Those interested are welcome to attend a meeting or for more information, call (860) 202-3598 or visit v4vct.org.