Presenting Rodney Bullock-IAMC Diversity spotlight Blogger
My name is Rodney Bullock and I have been a member of IAMC for the past 10 years. I am a LPC and I currently work as a counselor at Joliet Junior College. I serve as one of the contact persons charged with working with our veteran student populations. The work involves personal counseling, career planning, and educational goal setting.
Many veterans are using education benefits such as the post 911 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill and IVG-Illinois Veterans Grant. The veteran must show progress in school to continue to receive these benefits. This creates a particular challenge because the veteran may be facing other issues that prohibit the individual from being able to focus on school. Some veterans may be attempting to take classes for the first time since high school which may have been 10 plus years ago.
Even though military personnel share a distinct culture, this is indeed a very diverse group of students. We have all heard the saying, “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is very true in working with the military population.
Some veterans prefer to work with a therapist who has military experience. Others prefer to work with someone outside of the military. Multicultural counseling techniques have helped me gain acceptance and trust among this student population.
Even though PTSD has been documented and associated with veterans, I am also seeing issues related to anxiety, relationship problems, anger and unemployment. Since the presenting issues and challenges can be so diverse, I have developed relationships with several key support organizations. I have contacts at Hines VA Hospital, Volunteers of America Illinois, Veterans Assistance Commission of Will and Cook Counties and Veterans Alliance groups.
Substance abuse and self-medication is another concern among this population. It is imperative to get these students into counseling to address their issues because self-harm and suicidal ideation followed by suicide is also on the rise.
I also attend state-wide veterans’ trainings presented by various organizations. This keeps me current with events related to the veteran culture and population. Transcendental Meditation (TM) studies have shown some success also in helping veterans adjust back into civilian life. I tried TM nine months ago and it has helped me in my everyday life.
I plan on starting group sessions in our veteran’s center which just recently opened. We are looking at running an emotional support group and a substance abuse group if we have the numbers. I will continue to attend veteran specific trainings. When I attend veteran’s workshops, I add this information to the list of referrals. By utilizing the referral list, the veteran does not have to wait for services through the VA Hospital system.
In closing, I am looking forward to hearing back from my ICA and IAMC colleagues, if you have thoughts or other insights about working with our veterans. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org