Military service can be both dangerous and difficult for the men and women serving in America’s armed forces, but returning to civilian life can pose its own uniquely demanding challenges.
According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of veterans struggle to adjust to life at home due to physical or emotional trauma from anxiety, depression and insomnia. Finding healthcare solutions to these issues can be time consuming and, at times, overwhelming.
This is where 20-year retired U.S. Army veteran Roger Koch can step in to help. He works as a Military Liaison for Ozark Center’s Veterans Integration Program (VIP).
“Ozark Center understands that military service can be physically, emotionally and mentally traumatic for military veterans and their families,” Koch said. “They also understand the transition from military to civilian life is not always an easy transition, often overwhelming them.”
VIP places an emphasis on the needs of military veterans and their families by pairing veterans with veterans who understands their needs at every level of care, providing a single point of contact to services provided by Ozark Center, Freeman Health System and local Department of Veterans Affairs clinics.
“For me, having the opportunity to assist fellow veterans is a very fulfilling experience,” Koch said. “Being a military veteran myself, I can relate to several of the struggles that keep fellow veterans at bay. And though every military veteran has their own individual military experiences and stories to tell, being a retired military veteran gives me the opportunity and ability to better understand, connect and assist fellow veterans with various life struggles.”
Koch served in the U.S. Army, seeing combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to 2004, before retiring in 2005.
“We work solely and specifically with veterans to help integrate them into society and into our community,” Koch said. “I have been able to assist approximately 600 individual military veterans and their families by way of counseling, peer support, employment opportunities and connecting with other veteran resources within the community.”
VIP includes individual and group counseling, peer support, case management, medication management, substance use treatment, employment services and help navigating housing assistance, along with connecting with other veteran resources in the community. It is also a key contributor to the Jasper and Newton County Veterans Court System.
“I think being able to help fellow veterans with any and all struggles they might face is a very beneficial part of our program,” said Koch, who joined Freeman Health System in 2018 and VIP one year later. “Our number one goal is to assist and be there for the military veteran.”