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DLC and Home Base offer no-cost mental health services for veterans

Amber and Matthew Loebs.jpg
Cary Barbor WGCU
/
Amber and Matthew Loebs

Free mental health services are now available to veterans in southwest Florida. The David Lawrence Center for Behavioral Health in Naples has joined together with Home Base, which provides care for veterans, to provide clinical care for a variety of mental and emotional health needs, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, anger, grief and loss, and addiction.

The treatment involves an intensive, two-week residency where veterans will undergo such therapies as cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy.

Louis Chow, Ph.D., is senior director for training and network development at Home Base. He describes how veterans may be reluctant to seek help for themselves.

“Veterans have often adopted the warrior’s ethos of caring for others and are reluctant to quote-unquote “burden others,” even when they have injuries that are incredibly devastating,” said Dr. Chow.

Still, he said, those veterans who do seek treatment do very well.

Matthew Loebs is a US Army veteran who knew things weren’t going well when he sought help through a Home Base program.

“I was going through some rough times in my life. My marriage was falling apart. The week before I went to Home Base for my treatment, me and my wife separated,” said Loebs. “We went through our divorce. I worked on myself and went through the treatment, found out that other veterans are going through the same thing. Our stories are all different. But all the veterans—the coping mechanisms are all the same.”

Loebs’s wife at the time, Amber Loebs, adds that the mental and emotional struggles affect the whole family.

“It was very challenging to go through it, not knowing how to respond,” said Amber Loebs. “It affects your mental health as well. So to know that PTSD is never going to go away, it’s how are we going to cope with it, how are we going to work through it, and instead of working against each other. That was a big part of it.”

Matthew had had a hard time getting useful help through the Veterans Administration, he said. He participated in the two-week Home Base intensive treatment with other veterans.

“You’re diving in deep into your stories with a personal therapist,” Loebs said. “And then you break out into a group with your veterans and you start learning mindfulness and the tools. And when you do have these triggers, what resources do you have available in your toolbox to be able to pull out and get through whatever trigger that is.”

Loebs, now an engineer with the city of Cape Coral, put in the hard work, and in fact, still goes to weekly therapy for maintenance.

“Through all that and all that hard work, me and my wife were able to reconcile things and get back together,” said Loebs. “We got remarried and are living our best lives now.”

Dr. Chow adds that research has shown that the treatment does work, once people have access to the resources and put in the work.

“The evidence-based treatments that we offer and train in are cognitive processing therapy for PTSD, and also prolonged exposure for PTSD. These are all short-term, evidence-based, change-oriented collaborative treatments. And the clinicians at David Lawrence have already been trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy,” said Dr. Chow.

By making the treatment free, David Lawrence Center and Home Base hope to encourage veterans in Southwest Florida to investigate it, and access the care.

Dr. Chow adds: “ We can’t undo a life event. But the degree to which it impairs a person’s understanding of who they are, what their worth is, changes drastically when they go through this.”

The program is available to veterans, service members, and military family members. For more information, contact Home Base at 239-338-8389, or visit https://homebase.org/home-base-southwest-florida/.

Home Base sign.jpg
Cary Barbor WGCU
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