Mike’s Story

Mike had his dream job. After serving in the Navy and completing his final tour to a war zone, he planned to get a job as a fire fighter. He was offered a job at his local fire department right away. He was so excited to start his job that he cut short his time-off period after his deployment and started the job early.

Only a few weeks went by before Mike started drinking pretty heavily after work. The stress of the job and the nature of the work took a toll on him and he was having nightmares about his deployment, and flashbacks on the job while responding to calls.  His boss noticed his fatigue and also that he had missed a few days of work. When he talked with Mike, he recommended that he seek support at the local community mental health center.

At his intake interview, Mike didn’t want to appear as frightened or weak. As the therapist led him through the questions, Mike reported fatigue, trouble sleeping, and occasional drinking, but did not readily discuss flashbacks or his experiences in the Navy. It wasn’t until his next session that he revealed his recent service and that he was struggling with post-deployment stressors and challenges.

Once the therapist knew this, and with Mike’s permission, he was able to consult and collaborate with a local Vet Center therapist to provide more culturally competent care and get Mike the help he needed to address his substance abuse and other underlying issues. Mike continued his therapy at the CMHC and also participated in group therapy with other combat veterans at the Vet Center. Good thing Mike returned for the second session! The therapist discussed this at the next staff meeting and the director of the mental health center decided to Ask the Question about military service in the standard intake interview.

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