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May 27, 2024 16 mins
Samaritan Daytop Village, the largest provider of support services for veterans in New York,  provides shelter, mental health, and substance use recovery services.  Assistant Vice President for Residential Treatment and former U.S. Air Force member Deirdre Rice-Reese explains some of the challenges veterans face after their service.  For more, visit
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Welcome to Get Connected with Nina delRio, a weekly conversation about fitness,
health and happenings in our community onone oh six point seven Light FM.
Good morning, and thanks for listeningto get connected this Memorial Day weekend.
As we think about wars around theworld and those we've lost, we also
remember veterans in New York City whoneed our support. Samaritan Day Top Village,

the largest provider of support services forveterans in New York, provides shelter,
mental health, and substance use recoveryservices to veterans across multiple sites.
Our guest is Assistant vice president forResidential Treatment. Dear Dea Rice Reese,
on the challenges veterans continue to faceafter their services and way Samaritan Daytop Village
works to improve their lives. Deardra Rice Reese, thank you for being

on the show. Thank you forhaving me. I'm a staunch advocate for
veterans support and you know, asa veteran United States Air Force for four
years active, two years reserve.My sister and I joined on the same
day, so we served briefly togetherearly on back in the eighties. But

yeah, I'm happy to talk aboutveteran services and the things that are needed.
I appreciate you doing this today too. You can find out more about
the organization at Samaritan Village dot org. Only about ten percent of veterans are
women. Actually, I didn't realizeit was really so few. Thank you
for your service and your sister forher sir, thank you. What would
you say people just to talk aboutyour experience and your colleagues for a moment,

what would you say? People don'trealize about our veterans in general.
I think that there is an innatesense of pride that goes with having served
right and developing that purpose and continuingit as a civilian is not always easy.
There's a bit of a challenge.And then if you think back to

some of the some of the waysthat veterans were treated, you know,
many years ago, it wasn't alwaysthis supportive, loving willingness to support veterans
that In fact, there was areal vocal movement against veterans that served in
Vietnam because people felt like it wasn'tour war, and while we're there and

you're not a hero, and sothere was a time where people did not
even want to admit that they werea veteran, So getting people to understand,
yes, there is a sense ofpride that comes with it, and
yes you can be proud that youat least raise your hand to serve your
country. I know you do continueto serve an fair number of Vietnam veterans.

When did that actually start to turnthat issue of let's think about veterans
and even think about mental health ofveterans. I want to say after the
Gulf War, so more and moreafter nine to eleven, there was this
preson presumption that if you were willingto serve. Right, So, first
Vietnam was a war or conflict thathad selected service, you had to serve,

whereas in Gulf Wars and others wedidn't have to. You just volunteered.
And so by going on that missionand taking on that responsibility, you
automatically got sort of a hero's welcomeor support for being patriotic enough to serve.

So I'm going to say nineties andright up into two thousand, when
you get to nine to eleven,really becoming a hero. Spotlight Samaritan Daytop
Village has been providing support to veteransfor thirty years. You're the leading Veteran

service provider in New York, Canyou talk about the services that you do
offer, particularly focusing on behavioral healthsupports Samaritan and a proud support of veterans.
I think we, unlike many,unlike even the VA, support veterans
regardless of their character discharge. Sothat just means right, if you had,

if you had less than an honorabledischarge, you can't avail yourself of
benefits like you know, housing,medical, all of those things through the
VA. But at Samaritan, itdoesn't matter the character of discharge. Oftentimes
veterans are discharged from the service becauseof behavioral health issues, whether it's mental

health, substance use disorder, orother. And so for us addressing the
concern that might be mental health mightbe the substance use, might be an
intermittent explosive disorder, might be posttraumatic stress, might be military sexual trauma,
especially in the case of women andthose men that are unreported, don't
acts don't tell. So many nuancesrelated to the Veterans Service. It's incumbent

upon us to come up with strategicideas that help veterans recover truly heal,
not just you know, brush itoff. Or clean it up. It's
really let's try to help you heal. So we use therapeutic recreation. We
use evidence based practices that are clinicalin nature to help redirect, refocus the

veteran back to a more normal life. Helping veterans that have challenges in returning
to civilian life. Something as simpleas getting used to dressing yourself every day,
I say, dressing yourself in themilitary. You don't have to figure
out what you're going to wear towork, right, it's selected for you,

and you don't have to make upyour mind or have a goal for
what you want to do. They'regoing to tell you what to do.
So helping you focus on your goals. I wonder if you could explain to
me, just for a little moreclarity, why that would be a challenge.
And I'll give an example. Actually, my nephew's in the army and
he loves it because he loves aroutine. He loves you know, this

was the thing for him because heloves kind of you have it prescribed to
you every day. Why is thata challenge? Later, when you have
you've served, and you've done,you know, all this work, where
are those small things such big challenges. So if you think about it,
if someone's telling you what to do, then it's not likely that you're going
to do it wrong. If youhave to figure it out on your own,

it could be a challenge. Itcould go up against what others perception
of what you should be doing is. It could be if you're not goal
oriented or mission or focused on apurpose for yourself for your life for that
day, even then you struggle withit and then the depression will set in.

Right, So many veterans suffer fromthe depression. There's a higher rate
of suicidal ideation. There's a significantneed for mental health supports after having been
in whether you're in conflict or not. Doesn't have to be combat to be
stressful, right, So you know, if you think about having to make
all of your own decisions when someoneelse was doing it for you for sometimes

years, twenty years, right,there's career veterans. But now you're out
and you have to figure it outon your own. It becomes a real
stressor for us. And then stressand mental health becomes you know a whole
lot of other symptomatic Trying to helpyou focus on what your goals are,

what makes you happy, what makesyou sad, what makes you angry?
Well, you know, what doyou do when you get lonely? How
do you manage? You know,the natural stressors of the day right,
And that's for everyone, but forveterans. We are taught that we can
overcome anything. We are strong,we are resilient, we are you know,
we're capable. So to let yourselfdown, as well as the perception

of others that you're letting them down, it becomes a burden that many veterans
can't manage. That is so interestingto hear. Deird Rice Reese oversees the
veteran and upstate residential treatment programs ofSamaritan Day Top Village. They're the largest
provider of support services for veterans inNew York. You can find out more
at Samaritan Village dot org. You'relistening to get connected on one O six

point seven light i FM. I'minadel Rio. De de rice Reese has
nearly twenty five years of experience insocial services and management of substance use treatment
programs and facilities. Before her careerin social services, Ms Rice Rees served
in the US Air Forces for sixyears. After leaving the military, Why
did you decide to go into thiswork. It's my own personal story.

In the military, there are manyopportunities to become addicted or become a part
of a culture of use or abuse. Commanders, beer busts, and you
know, celebrations of victory and allincluded alcohol in that. Traveling overseas and

exposure to many different substances, andso people get connected to something that they
find comforting. Sometimes it's not evendrugs. It could be food, it
could be shopping, it could begambling, and all of those are things
that plague our veterans as well.However, for me, it was going

through and having champagne and cocaine asa part of my life. So came
out of the military, I was, you know, happy to be home
and I was able to begin todrink and use cocaine. So it became
one of those things that my lifewas unmanageable. I went through a course
of treatment, and to to behonest, at the time, it was

a means to an end, right, I was worried about what it would
look like if I had a gap, Where would I go? How would
I convert my military skills in training? Because I was logistics, I was
inventory management, being able to convertthat into a civilian job without a lot
of questions. So working in thefield became oh, okay, well I

can do this. And I startedoff as an admissions counselor trying to encourage
others to change their lives, notas a veteran, but as a woman,
as a person wanting to help otherschange their lives, and it became
a part of what my purpose becameright, so service. I realized that

service was a part of my innatepurpose and being able to do this for
as long as I had, Withthe level of success that I've had in
this field, I can say I'vecome across thousands of people that have crossed
our doors and we just know thatthis works. And talking and getting into

support systems, reintegrating with family,all of those things help and being a
part of that helping system has beena part of a very big part of
my life. You recently testified beforethe city Council about additional supports we need
to provide the thousands of veterans whocome to a return to the city each
year. What did you talk about, What does the city need to do

or should do can do to serveour veterans in a better way, so
continue to fund organizations. So theDepartment of Veteran Services for the City,
when you talk about New York City, has a funding arm and there they've
amplified a lot of the things thatwe need. Connectivity supports via virtual ability,

having meetings and other activities and eventsthat are planned just for veterans,
showing veterans ride, enforcing and supportingyou know, veteran activities. The City
Council for US has been a cornerstoneof therapeutic recreation other mental health supports that

the state licensed organization does not provide, right, So there are things that
we can do with city funding,like taking a therapeutic trip to the monuments
in DC to Arlington Nationals due toWest Point, just reminding veterans of their

pride and their and reinstallation of pride. We don't have that financial support.
As well as other ideas workforce development, retraining. The munitions person that came
out of the military might not beable to find a job doing that,
right, So how do we redirectthat energy and that interest, that ability
so that getting workforce development dollars isvery helpful as well. Connecting us to

being able to support us in theconnection of services that would enhance what we
already do, and the city hascut back be honest on veteran supported budgets,
right, so we need for themto restore and retain at least if
not, you know, certainly notdiminished, but restore and retain the funding

that they they've provided so willingly forthe last and say five years before we
jump off. You did talk toas you mentioned about employment or veterans mentioned
to you employment is a priority forthem and housing speaking to employers, specifically
smoothing the road for candidates, findingcandidates, training candidates. Is there anything

you know if this is your platform, what would you say be open to
hearing from veterans. Don't summarily dismisstheir qualifications because of how they left the
service or that they even served.Know that they're likely to be a strong,

disciplined candidate, and while they maynot have been while in the military
or while in their addiction or intheir recovery process, they likely are able
to follow direction and march to adifferent drum. They can become goal oriented,
they can be focused. They arestrong and resilient, as they were

usually not nefarious, not the onesthat I come across. And that's a
part of the education you get inrecovery, and so being open to listening
to the veteran, getting a senseof what they might want to do,
and integrating them into your work systems. So really having a box on your

application that says I am a veteran, proud veteran. Don't ask me how
I laughed or whatever. I'm aproud veteran, and be open to seeing
that person just because they serve.I believe that veterans should get all aspects
of any service and support that theycan get, not for myself but for

those that serve. Is not thatmany people that have served, and so
why not take care of the peoplethat did and do the best that you
can offer it out You can findout more about Samaritan day Top Village,
the people they work with, andways to support them at Samaritan Village dot
org. Our guest is Deirdre RiceReese. Thank you so much. It

was a wonderful. It was apleasure talking with you. This is,
you know, an honor for meand I know we're on radio, but
as you see my statue behind meand my background It's one of those things
where you get a sense of pridefor having taken the time I'm out of
your life. It's not something thatanyone any of us had to do,

but certainly something that we did andwe should be recognized for. This has
been get connected with Nina del Rioon one oh six point seven light Fm.
The views and opinions of our guestsdo not necessarily reflect the views of
the station. If you missed anypart of our show or want to share
it, visit our website for downloadsand podcasts at one oh six to seven

lightfm dot com. Thanks for listening.
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