Army veteran Brandon Thompson was very closed off. Like many people, he hid his problems well and dealt with them privately. That tactic helped him immensely in the military but it didn’t carry over too well into civilian life.
“I tended to push people away including my daughter, my girlfriend and my family because I saw myself in such a negative light,” Thompson told the VA’s Vantage blog. “I wanted to be alone.”
This behavior continued to tear a whole in Thompson’s relationship with his daughter. He knew he needed to find help. His first attempt was a six-week program in Arkansas. While that program helped him tap into his emotions, he wasn’t given any real tools to move on with his life. That’s when Thompson learned about the VA’s Aspire program.
Aspire is a 40-bed facility in San Diego dedicated solely to the recovery of veterans returning from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. According to the VA, “The center provides temporary housing and comprehensive interdisciplinary care including: psychiatry, psychology, addiction therapy, onsite primary care and nursing support, spirituality, social work services, recreational activities, financial counseling and vocational and occupational therapy for Veterans who need them.”
A new take on life
Depending on the needs of the individual veteran, the Aspire program can last between three and six months. Recovery plans are designed for specific individuals and no two plans are the same.
“The best candidates for this program are Veterans who recognize the need for a change in their life, who are motivated and clinically ready, sober and abstinent, to put in the work needed to achieve their goals in recovery,” said Dr. Lu Le, Medical Director at the Aspire Center.
Thanks to the program, Thompson now realized the importance of emotion in his life. With a few months left in his treatment, Thompson calls his daughter every morning to talk. His failing relationship with her pushed Thompson to get help in the first place.
“I’m getting to a place where I can sit there with her when we talk and be present in the things that matter to her,” he said. “That’s a really great place to be.”