CCAD Deploys Peer-to-Peer Program
by Brigitte Rox, CCAD Public Affairs
Depot employee and combat veteran, Jeffrey Churchill (3rd from right) talks with other volunteers in Corpus Christi Army Depot's new Peer to Peer program. The program trains employees to mentor veterans and co-workers struggling with PTSD. Photo by Ervey Martinez(RELEASED).
Corpus Christi, TX (May 6, 2013) – Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) may be known for the support they give the joint Warfighter on the field, but they’re also supporting the Warfighter off the field.
Peer to Peer, or P2P, is a new mentorship program that helps veterans (and non-veterans) overcome the many challenges they face as survivors.
“Our goal is to help veterans and employees who suffer from PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] or suffered traumatic experiences in their lives,” said Ruben Ramirez, CCAD’s Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) Prevention Coordinator.
Veterans make up 53% of CCAD’s workforce and that number is on the rise due to a strong push to hire veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Forty-six years after leaving Southeast Asia, many of us still deal with [PTSD] on a daily basis,” said Chris Soto, a Vietnam veteran and union representative for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Soto was one of the first to volunteer for the P2P program. He found that the training not only prepared him to help others – it also gave him insight into his own past trauma.
“If only this type of [P2P] training had been available to all back then,” he thought, “I might not have lost so [much] in my life.”
Historically, “services were limited to the VA and VET Centers which most veterans shun for fear of being labeled, or the stigma that's associated with them,” Ruben Ramirez said.
“Many times employees are reluctant to share their issues with their supervisor,” Ramirez said. “Having the opportunity to talk to a peer whom they trust that is trained allows them to get help without getting a supervisor involved.”
“Sometimes they just need to talk.”
Despite the emotional and psychological setbacks he endured from the war, Soto considers himself a survivor: “The bottom line is you want to survive this day and to live the next day productively.”
To become a certified P2P assistant, volunteers undergo 32 hours of classroom training that includes exercises, role play, individual and group training, visits by clinicians and service providers, and resource awareness. Each student must pass a proctored, written exam before receiving certification as a CCAD P2P assistant.
So far CCAD certified 30 P2P assistants who are already hitting the shop floors and making a difference.
Now other local military facilities are asking how they can use P2P at their work. In response, ASAP is scheduling another round of training and taking volunteers.
To learn more about the P2P program and how you can get involved, contact Ruben Ramirez at his ASAP office at 961-5464.