Veterans Counseling

Central Washington Veterans Counseling

helps Vets transition from war to peace

 

It doesn’t matter what war, if any, you served in. It doesn’t matter what sex you are or what your financial status is, it matters not your age, religion or what service you were in, veteran Veterans counselor Heather Hill has an ear, a heart and a motive to make sure your transition from war to peace is a less bumpy ride.

Here in her own words is Heather’s story:

Inheriting a Legacy

I inherited a legacy in 2020.  A year of trials for many, was also the year that I assumed ownership of Central Washington Veterans Counseling.  Central Washington Veterans Counseling provides mental health support to military veterans and their families.  The therapists that work on our team have a military background/military cultural competency that enable us to provide the best overall care to veterans and their families.  Supporting military veterans is an honor and also very humbling.  Understanding the culture of serving in the military is instrumental in developing rapport and having a clearer understanding of the challenge’s veterans face abroad and at home. 

My husband and I both joined the U.S. Army after 9/11/2001.  We felt called to serve and protect our country.  We were married December 2001, and we shipped to Basic Training in January 2002.  We honeymooned at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  He went on to AIT at Fort Gordon, and I traveled to Monterey, California to the Defense Language Institute to train as a linguist.  A foot injury cut my service short, and I joined my husband at our first duty station at Fort Stewart, Georgia with the 3rd Infantry Division.  We arrived in November 2002, and he deployed to Kuwait on December 7, 2002.  Ironically, Pearl Harbor Day.

I began having an interest in combat related PTSD after my husband’s first deployment to Iraq in 2003.  I was already committed to pursue my Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling, but after experiencing his homecoming and witnessing the changes in our friends and fellow soldiers, I definitely was more invested.  I have worked in community mental health.  There is excellent work to be done there, and it is very rewarding.  However, my heartbeat is with the veteran community.  My husband and I have had a wonderful journey, but as most people, there has been some unexpected challenges along the way that have led to further growth and maturity.  I have heard veterans communicate there is no hope for them, or they cannot get better.  I have felt that despair and absence of hope, and I know it can get better and there is hope.  I want to help them.  I do not know how I could have traveled my life’s journey and in good conscious not make myself available to be a support to our veterans with my training and insight.  I know I am not the only road to wellness for veterans, but I would like to be a choice on the journey. 

Clearly assuming ownership of a business in the middle of the onset of COVID-19 was less than ideal.  As a result, we looked for a new location that would better support social distancing.  We were lucky enough to find a location just a few blocks south of our old location at 247 N. Chelan.  Our office is now on the ground floor and larger to allow for appropriate social distancing.  We currently have 180 clients who are actively engaged in counseling services.  As with any small business in 2020, we have experienced a reduction in appointments.  We do offer telehealth options, but many would prefer in office visits which were more limited until recently due to contract obligations to the Seattle Vet Center.  We can now see veterans in office with some restrictions.   

In addition to myself, Central Washington Veterans Counseling has four therapists who are available to support veterans: Diane Hansen, LMHC, Cynthia Buckely, LMHC, Marv Hinz, LISCW, and Sue Dickensen, LMFT.  We also have a diligent and committed Office Manager, Leita Crossfield, who also is a veteran. 

Central Washington Veterans Counseling has three main contracts to provide mental health support to military veterans.  The Seattle Vet Center contract is specific to combat veterans and is utilized to support veterans with adjustment counseling and counseling to support the reduction of symptoms of PTSD.  The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs contract is utilized to support non-combat veterans as well as family of service members.  The Tri-West Contract is utilized to support veterans through the Mission Act (formerly known as Choice) to provide mental health treatment even if it is not related to military service.  All services at Central Washington Veterans Counseling are at no cost to veterans or their families, however, some funding is limited which can impact the potential of accepting new clients

Central Washington Veterans Counseling was first established on Labor Day 2000.  Wayne Ball opened an office downtown Wenatchee near the YMCA.  He was previously working at the Vet Center in Anchorage, Alaska and later in Seattle.  He was recruited by Tom Schumacher of the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs to provide services in Wenatchee where PTSD counseling services were lacking for combat veterans.  As a result of feeling as though he did not have much opportunity for advancement in the VA system, he returned to private practice and opened Central Washington Veterans Counseling.  He was preceded by Hyam Grossman who was previously the combat veterans PTSD counselor in the Wenatchee area.  Wayne arrived at his new office on Labor Day hoping to get his office situated and organized, to have 5 veterans waiting for him at his office door.  Central Washington Veterans Counseling was off and running!

In 2014 Sue Dickenson assumed ownership from Wayne Ball.  Sue was an Army brat and has worked all over the world with active military personnel and their family.  Sue was introduced to me through Ron Bruno who was a part of the leadership of the “Bunker” or Vets Serving Vets in 2017.  Sue met with me, at that time I was employed with Confluence Health, and eventually offered me a position as a subcontractor in 2018.  Sue started to plan towards her retirement and offered to pass the business onto me.  I was awarded the main Seattle Vet Center Contract in the fall of 2019 with the support of Letia Crossfield and Sue.  It became effective April 2020 when I assumed ownership. 

It is my hope to honor the veterans we serve and to honor the legacy of Central Washington Veterans Counseling and those that were here before me.  It is a truly humbling gift and I’m grateful to have the best job in the world.  I do not mean to sound trite, but there is literally no other occupation and no other group of people I would rather be working with.

 

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