Open House at “WALKER HOUSE” In Denison Texas

You’re invited to drop by and visit us at Walker House 1100 W. Walker Street, Denison, Texas on OCTOBER 19, 2023 from 3:30pm- 6:00pm. This is a come & go casual event. Get a tour of the Walker House, and learn all about the purpose of Texoma’s Veteran Peer Networking Center. Individuals, businesses, organizations, and any community group is invited to come to our Open House. We hope to see you there!

Now Accepting Volunteers: MILITARY VETERAN PEER NETWORK – TEXOMA COMMUNITY CENTER

We are currently accepting applications for Veteran Peer Volunteers for our Fiscal Year 2024, which runs from September 1, 2023 through August 31, 2024.

PEER VOLUNTEER: Most of our volunteers are “PEER VOLUNTEERS”, which is the most effective way to help veterans as a volunteer for MVPN. Peer Volunteers simply listen and respond to veterans in a way that is understanding of military and veteran culture, and the support is trauma-informed. It’s much like talking with a friend (while following peer ethics), and being part of a veteran’s support system. It is not counseling and it is not considered professional mental health services.

REQUIREMENTS FOR PEER VOLUNTEERS:

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

*In a nutshell, Peer Volunteers need to be at a point in their own healing journey that allows them to be able to be able to pour into others using good communication skills, with enough self-awareness to be able to help others. Our “lived experience” and a desire to help others improve their mental wellness is a key component in this process.

No degree required: The most important experience we’re looking for in Peer Volunteers is communication, self-awareness, and the ability to connect with others in a calm, understanding way. These interpersonal skills and the ability to get along well with others are critical skills needed.

Our Peer Volunteers provide support to other veterans and family members through one-on-one peer support (either via phone or in person) or by facilitating support groups. We offer training and guidance to our Peer Volunteers, and this role does not have to take place at Walker House.

Peer support can occur anywhere. In fact, we would LOVE to get peer volunteers for non-traditional types of groups like online gaming (must be familiar with Discord), fishing groups, gardeining groups, chicken groups, yoga groups etc.

We’re a mental health program, but not mental health professionals, and peer support hugely important in the healing process. We have several areas we’re focusing on for fiscal year 2024, and everyone plays a role in reaching our goals.

Our areas of focus include: Providing Peer Support, promoting ACCESS TO CARE for professional mental health referrals, providing community education, serving specialty Veteran populations, expanding our volunteer opportunities, and improving awareness & marketing efforts.

PARTICIPATION: The first step to volunteering is coming to Walker House to participate and get to know the program, while we get to know you. Check us out and see if this might be a good fit for how you want to contribute to the Veteran community.

VOLUNTEER APPLICATION: Once the application is received, we will schedule a time to meet with you and discuss how you’d like to serve with our program. Here is the link to the volunteer application: https://www.texomacc.org/volunteer-internships/2136-2/

BACKGROUND CHECK: At the time of our initial meeting, you will sign some routine paperwork. We also need a copy of your drivers license or state ID.

MILITARY CULTLURAL COMPETENCY TRAINING: You will be required to attend one of our MCC training sessions in person. This usually is a 2.5 hour class that gives you a basic introduction and overview to the program and challenges that veterans face.

SPECIALTY TRAINING: Depending on what team you will be on for MVPN, you may be required to undergo specialized training for the position. Examples are food handler’s license training, TDCJ training, Veterans Court Mentor training, etc.

VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION: Volunteer orientation is in-person. Please check our calendar to see upcoming orientation dates.

AS+K SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING: This is a 2.5 hour class that equips you with the knowledge needed to identify when someone is having suicidal ideology and what actions to take. This is a required class for all Peer Volunteers.

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID (MHFA) & CALM (COUNSELING ON LETHAL MEANS): MHFA and CALM trainings help further prepare you to help Veterans in crisis. These are required for Team Coordinators, but no for all Peer Volunteers.

PEER VOLUNTEER MEETINGS: These meetings occur the 3rd Tuesday of each month from 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm at Walker House. We learn about resources, upcoming needs, and we also have brief training on topics that need to be addressed.

COMMITMENT: Most of our Peer Volunteers spend between 40 – 125 hours per month volunteering for us. They do not get paid or reimbursed for gas. -And almost half of our most active volunteers don’t even live in Grayson County. Several of them don’t even live in Texoma or Texas!!! Plus, they work really hard for us on holidays and some weekends. Some of our Peer Volunteers have jobs that allow them the flexibility to volunteer as part of their job. Some Peer Volunteers are retired. Some of our Peer Volunteers take PTO from their job to volunteer with us, while others volunteer in their off hours.

They don’t do it for the t-shirt (although our Volunteer t-shirts really are awesome). They don’t do it for the annual Volunteer Appreciation event (although we did take a cruise this year!).

WHY do our devote so much to our program for free…with absolutely no compensation?

Because the rewards and sense of community they develop along the way are amazing. The work they’re doing is fulfilling beyond anything that money can buy. BUT it takes a while to work up to that level of dedication and realization that you are being fulfulled yourself. The first few months are basically just getting to know the program and starting to get involved.

One thing that you’ll see happen by being so involved is that you start moving forward even more in your own healing journey. We see our volunteers experience improved family relationships, improved communication skills, and an overall better sense of mental well-being.

Once you’re familiar with the program, you’ll become part of a team (or more than one team) that serves in a way that is a good fit for you. Our teams are:

Veterans Court Mentor Team (current need is for Fannin County only)

Special Events Team Working with other teams to help coordinate special events such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, Community Open House, etc.

Special Projects Team: This usually requires creating seasonal crafts, goody bags, etc.

Sponsorship Team: Schedules our sponsors, keeps the military discount list updated, makes sure we fulfill our end of the sponsorship.

JIV Team: Provides peer support and serves as a resource for Veterans who are incarcerated or otherwise involved with law enforcement. This requires making visits to county, state and federal jails as needed. Specialized training is required, and additional background checks.

Training Coordination Team: Works with organizations, businesses and the community to schedule suicide prevention and mental health classes.

Veterans Champion Team: Connects with our local faith-based community to establish relationships, helps with outreach at community events,

Kitchen Crew Team: Prepares large amounts of food, serves our Veterans and maintains a clean, organized kitchen environment. Requires a food handler’s license (we can connect you with this if you don’t already have it)

House Host Team: Coordinates the schedule for Peer Volunteers who “host” the house each day.

Community Resource Team: Helps with warm hand-offs for SMVF, attends community meetings to connect with resources,

SPECIALTY AREAS

We also have speciality areas that our Peer Volunteers may have a passion for helping with. These areas involve veterans who have a specific type of situation that requires more specialized knowledge, skills and training. For FY ’24, the areas we need additional help with are Justice Involved Veterans, Veterans who are homeless, and rurallylocated in Fannin and Cooke Counties.

ADDITIONAL SPECIALTY TRAINING: If you would like to be a Peer Volunteer for Veterans in a specific type of situation, we will arrange for additional training. Some training is online, but be prepared to attend in-person training as well. Group Facilitators need to attend training to learn about our facilitation guide and rules, peer eithics that apply to all of our groups. Below is a description of each of our specialty areas:

Justice Involved Veterans:

It is not uncommon for veterans experiencing challenges with mental health to have encounters with law enforcement. Some encounters result in criminal charges that relate to alcohol or substance abuse, due to “self-medicating”. Our goal in working with Justice Involved Veterans is to help connect them with mental health resources, along with other resources such as filing for VA benefits, help to connect them with housing options, etc. that may help improve their situation.

We need Peer Volunteers who want to work directly with veterans who are involved in the justice system. We make jail visits to visit with veterans who are incarcerated in local county jails, state jails and federal prisons. We need peer volunteers who can go into the jails and meet with veterans as we get referrals from law enforcement agencies. As needed, we can help coordinate resources and a plan for re-entry. Additionally, we can work with probation officers as a resource to help prevent veterans from re-offending.

We also work closely with the North Texas Regional Veterans Court as “mentors” providing peer support for the veterans who participate in the program in Fannin & Grayson Counties. The purpose of the program is to give Veterans a second chance after they’ve been arrested for a DUI or similar type of charge that involves self-medicating due to issues that are related to their time in service. It is a treatment program. Acceptance into the program is not guaranteed.

Requirements for being a Mentor are to have regular contact with your mentee(s) to develop a relationship of trust and help, attend ongoing training for mentors, attend court once per month with your mentee, and sign off on paperwork.

Veterans Who Are Homeless or At-Risk for Homelessness:

Veterans experience homelessness for many reasons. Sometimes it’s a simple as their rent got increased to an unaffordable amount, or loss of an income caused the situation. Also, sometimes the underlying reasons for their situation are very complex, and simply connecting them with a roof over their head does not fully address the problem. While there are many resources available to help veterans with housing insecurity, not all veterans know how to access the resources, or they may need a lot of extra help with accessing housing.

Helping veterans who are homeless can be a lot of tough work, and the ability to piece together resources. Not all veterans are eligible for housing assitance through the VA, or other programs. Housing is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and being a Peer Volunteer in this area requires a lot of empathy and patience. It is definitely NOT an ideal role for everyone. However, the rewards are priceless.

This particular area requires a Peer Volunteer who is passionate about resources, and willing to do some extra legwork for Veterans who have a lot of barriers. If you like a good challenge and if you enjoy problem solving, then working with Veterans in this area may be the right fit for you!

FEMALE VETERANS:

We have art groups and activities for female veterans at Walker House. Help is needed with setting up and cleaning up the activities. We also celebrate Women Veterans Day once a year. We come together to bond and share our experiences to support each other.

No matter what your talent, skills or interests, we probably have something for you at the Military Veteran Peer Network – Texoma Community Center.

JANUARY 2023 EVENTS – Military Veteran Peer Network

Texoma’s Veteran Peer Networking Center (aka “Walker House”) is open for walk-ins on Monday – Thursday from 9am – 1pm.  All other times are by appointment 903-267-0166. 

Since volunteers run the program, our walk-in hours may vary, depending on volunteer availability.   Our services are always free. 

***All events are held at WALKER HOUSE 1100 W. Walker Denison TX, unless outlined in blue.

***Locations for events in blue are indicated in description

EVERY THURSDAY & SUNDAY:

5:00pm Gaming Veterans (online).  Email gamingveterans@yahoo.com to get connected. No need to feel alone.

TUES JANUARY 3

11:30-1:00: Clint’s Café: Veterans & their immediate family are invited to join us for peer networking and camraderie, as we bond over lunch. Meet other family members of veterans, and leave knowing that you’re growing your support system.

MON JANUARY 9

1:00pm Men’s Group A casual, small group for men who want to discuss things that are on their mind in life.

TUES JANUARY 10

11:30 – 1pm Clint’s Café: Veterans & their immediate family are invited to join us for peer networking and camraderie, as we bond over lunch.. Meet other family members of veterans, and leave knowing that you’re growing your support system.

12:30 PTSD Group Co-Ed It’s okay to take a deep dive into the hard things that you experience as a result of PTSD.

THURS JANUARY 12

Doors open at 5:30pm Veterans of Fantasy Role Play games

SAT JANUARY 14

8:30am-10:00am  Veteran & Family Breakfast: Bring your family for a home-made breakfast. Enjoy peer support with other veterans and their family members.

10:00am – 12:00pm MILITARY CULTURAL COMPETENCY TRAINING: Required for all volunteers. This is a Saturday event to accommodate work schedules. If you cannot make it to this one, we will be offering more training in future months.

MON JAN 16

1pm Men’s Group A casual, small group for men who want to discuss things that are on their mind in life.

TUES JAN 17

11:30am – 1pm Men’s Lunch: Women are welcome to gather for lunch in the training room. This is a chance for male veterans to have some male-bonding on their own terms over lunch. Females, leave knowing that you’re growing your support system also.

12:30pm PTSD Group Co-Ed It’s okay to take a deep dive into the hard things that you experience as a result of PTSD.

1:00pm – 2:00pm  VOLUNTEER MEETING: It’s easy to feel like a close-knit family when you volunteer for MPVN. This meeting is for current and future volunteers. Get the latest volunteer updates about MVPN, specific volunteer needs, upcoming events, and get plugged in.

THURS JAN 19

6:00pm – 7:00pm PHOTO BOOTH FUN at American Legion Post 62 (419 W. Crawford, Denison TX): Memorable fun for all ages. Grab your family & get in front of the camera to make silly memories together. Or bring a group of friends. You provide the smiles & we provide the accessories & camera. (Or you can bring your own accessories).

FRI JAN 20

VETERANS COURT GRAYSON 100 W. Houston St Sherman, TX  2nd floor  (arrive at annex room by 8:30am for networking & breakfast)  Be in West courtroom no later than 9:30am. 

VETERANS COURT FANNIN 101 E. Sam Rayburn Dr. Bonham TX 2nd Floor arrive by 1:30pm

MON JAN 23

1pm MEN’S GROUP A casual, small group for men who want to discuss things that are on their mind in life.

TUES JAN 24

11:30 – 1pm CLINT’S CAFÉ: Veterans & their immediate family are invited to join us for peer networking and camraderie, as we bond over lunch. Meet other family members of veterans, and leave knowing that you’re growing your support system.

12:30 PTSD GROUP Co-Ed It’s okay to take a deep dive into the hard things that you experience as a result of PTSD.

THURS JAN 26

Doors open at 5:30pm  Veterans of Fantasy Role Play games

MON JAN 30

1pm MEN’S GROUP A casual, small group for men who want to discuss things that are on their mind in life.

TUES JAN 31

11:30am – 1pm CLINT’S CAFÉ (FIRST RESPONDERS INVITED) Since First Responders come into contact with veterans each day, we want them to be very knowledgeable about how MVPN helps veterans. Please invite any firts responders to join us for Clint’s Cafe. Veterans & their immediate family are always invited to join us for peer networking and camraderie, as we bond over lunch. Meet other family members of veterans, and leave knowing that you’re growing your support system.

12:30 pm  PTSD Group Co-Ed It’s okay to take a deep dive into the hard things that you experience as a result of PTSD.

A Glimpse into Veterans Court: The Place Where Celebrations Occur

Grayson County Courthouse

Even when it’s cold and gloomy outside, what takes place inside these two courthouses one Friday each month feels like a lot of sunshine and celebration.

Fannin County Courthouse

Grayson and Fannin counties are part of the North Texas Regional Veterans Court, with the Honorable John Roach presiding.

The first hint that this court proceeding is unlike any other occurs with “ATTENTION ON DECK!”, followed by Judge Roach entering the courtoom wearing his camoflauge robe, with the courtroom support dog, Justice, in tow. From the bench, Judge Roach personally practices the expectation of dedication and effort that he encourages the veterans in court to have.

Ocassionally a veteran fails to bring their folder to court. If this ever happens, Judge Roach lets the veteran pick the number of push-ups they prefer to do, then he makes them drop in front of everyone. The catch to this is that Judge Roach himself drops and does push-ups alongside the veteran, joined by all the other able-bodied veterans who participate in the program. He has no qualms taking swift action in the rare event that a veteran does not pass a drug test, which results in being cuffed and escorted from the courtoom straight to jail.

Judge Roach talks to each veteran in his courtroom individually, asking them about their successes, updates and challenges over the past 30 days. The tone he has with them is conversational and personal, conveying a sense of sincere empathy in their successes.Sometimes he shares advice or stories in the courtroom, and it is in those stories that you understand these veterans are always on his mind regardless of where he is.

They were on his mind when he set out to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, a mountain in Africa  which is the highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world. He explained that climbing the mountain was extremely hard, and he wanted to quit.  But he kept thinking about the veterans, and how their journeys to recovery are incredibly challenging. How could he quit on that mountain and come back to face the veterans in court who are also on a hard journey and may feel like quitting?

So he didn’t quit.

He kept climbing, and along the way, he kept repeating the Swahili words that his guide taught him to use as a mental tool to finish the climb: “Pole Pole”, and “Hakuna Matata” which means “Slowly, Slowly” and “no troubles.” At times he felt like he was going to fall off the mountain, or collapse from exhaustion.  But he kept moving his feet, “Pole Pole.” That’s how it can feel for veterans who are climbing their way to a higher point in life through the North Texas Regional Veterans Court.

It is a second chance in life for veterans facing convictions. 

Many of the veterans are there for incidents that involve addiction, on a journey that typically lasts anywhere from 12 months to 18 months. Commencing from the program means they’ve successfully completed all the requirements including therapy, classes and maintaining sobriety. It is evident that the veterans in front of Judge Roach are making progress. Some of the progress is something tangible such as achieving the goal of buying a new car or getting a promotion at work. Often, some of the progress that veterans report is that they were invited to spend dinner or holidays with family for the first time in a long time.

Listening to the victories and milestones that the veterans have achieved since the last time they were in front of Judge Roach can easily move a person to tears. A round of applause breaks out for each veteran as they state how many days (many have hundreds of days) of sobriety they’ve achieved. It’s a celebration of the journey that they take day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and sometimes second by second…”Pole Pole”.

Military Veteran Peer Network provides mentors for the veterans who go through veterans court. We have a need for more mentors in both Fannin and Grayson counties. If you’re interested in volunteering to become a mentor for Veterans Court in Fannin or Grayson, please contact Sharon Luse sluse@texomacc.org.

For more information on how to apply to participate in the North Texas Regional Veterans Court, please visit https://www.northtexasveteranscourt.com/apply-now

OPEN HOUSE – YOU’RE INVITED

Walker House 1100 W. Walker Street in Denison, Texas

WHEN: THURSDAY | NOVEMBER 17, 2022 | 3:00pm – 6:30 pm

WHERE: 1100 W. WALKER, DENISON, TEXAS

You’re invited to join us Thursday, 11/17/22, on the one day when we open our doors to the community at the Walker House. Walker House is where our local MILITARY VETERAN PEER NETWORK operates, which is a program certified by the Texas Veteran’s Commission.

The Military Veteran Peer Network is certified by the Texas Veteran’s Commission

Take a tour of our center, The Walker House, and learn how we help veterans in a non-clinical way. It’s also your chance to directly network with businesses and community members who support veterans. You’ll also have the chance to meet some of our wonderful volunteer peers, who pour their heart and time into serving our veteran community.

This is a COME & GO event, as our parking is currently limited.

We’re also having a silent auction, along with goodies to munch on.

If you cannot make it on the day of the event, but would like to learn more about Walker House and the Military Veteran Peer Network, please contact Sharon Luse 903-267-0166 or via email: sluse@texomacc.org

Visit our Facebook page to get an inside glimpse of what’s been happening behind the scenes, and information about veteran related news.

October 2022 Calendar of Events

MILITARY VETERAN PEER NETWORK – TEXOMA COMMUNITY CENTER

OCT 11  (11:30pm – 1:00pm)

Clint’s Camaraderie Cafe

Drop by for lunch!  Clint’s Cafe is simply a time for camaraderie with a group of peers. Meet other veterans who have been there and done that. Lots of banter, laughter and bonding happens during Clint’s Cafe.

OCT 11 (12PM – 1PM)

FLU CLINIC

Nurses from Mays Home Health will be at Walker House to give flu shots for those who want one.  If you have Medicare, bring your Medicare card with you. 

OCT 10, OCT 17, 24, 31  (6pm – 7pm)

Men’s PTSD Support Group

“Bring Everyone In The Zone” is a support group for anyone dealing with and recovering from the aftermath of Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, Sexual Assault, and any traumatic experiences in life.  The only requirement is that, having been profoundly affected by trauma, we have a desire to improve our lives, work toward recovery, and positively impact the lives of those close to us.

OCT 12, OCT 26 (11am – 12pm)

Women’s PTSD Support group

“Bring Everyone In The Zone” is a support group for anyone dealing with and recovering from the aftermath of Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, Sexual Assault, and any traumatic experiences in life.  The only requirement is that, having been profoundly affected by trauma, we have a desire to improve our lives, work toward recovery, and positively impact the lives of those close to us.

OCT 13 (1pm – 3pm)

BIRTHDAY PARTY – Happy Birthday Navy

All branches are welcome to celebrate the Navy’s birthday.  Stop by for cake and ice cream!

OCT 15 is the registration deadline for MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID training which will be held on December 7, 2022 from 8am – 4pm at Walker House.  Lunch will be provided.  Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training introduces participants to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use concerns, builds understanding of their impact, and gives an overview of common treatments and resources.  To register, email Sharon Luse sluse@texomacc.org or send a text to Sharon 903-267-0166.  All MVPN volunteers are encouraged to attend this training if possible.

OCT 18 (11:30AM – 1PM)

Men’s Veteran Lunch – 4th Tuesday

We reserve the 4th Tuesday of the month for male veterans to get together and eat. It’s a time for the men to discuss whatever they want. That doesn’t mean that spouses and significant others can’t come and eat also….we’ve reserved a separate, private room for them to gather also. Don’t worry, we’ve got a Women Veteran Lunch on a different day.

OCT 19 (2-3pm)

Let’s Get Crafty

Spend an hour with Sharon making crafts.  Crafting is a therapeutic and rewarding activity.  No special skills required…we have all the supplies at Walker House, so come on for an hour of rewarding fun.

OCT 20 (door opens at 5:30.  Games begin at 6:30)

Veterans of Fantasy

Enjoy a night of fantasy gaming fun with other veterans.  If you’re a gamer, in-person Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy games might be just what you need to relieve stress.

OCT 25 (11:30AM – 1PM)

Lunch & Learn

Toastmaster Guest Speaker, Roger Eppler, joins us during lunch to discuss improving communication and speaking skills.  This is useful for anyone who ever has the need to speak to others in public, for job interviews, training, speaking in front of a crowd, and networking purposes

Come Gather At Our Table Tuesdays At Walker House: 1100 W. Walker in Denison Texas

Tuesday Oct 11, 2022: Clint’s Camaraderie Cafe 11:30am – 1:00pm

Tuesday Oct 18, 2022: Men’s Veteran Lunch 11:30am – 1:00pm

Tuesday Oct 25, 2022: LUNCH & LEARN 11:30am – 1:00pm “Improving Communication Skills” Guest Speaker Roger Eppler, Toastmasters

Tuesdays are a buzz of activity at Walker House. That’s when our kitchen crew is busy making some homemade lunchtime goodness for veterans. Just show up. The food is usually ready by 11:30-ish. But we always welcome latecomers…we just can’t promise how much food will be left after 12:30pm.

Oh, and did we mention that it’s free?

We have a huge table that seats at least 16 people,, and we also have 4 smaller overflow tables inside that can seat an additional 21 people.

If you’re used to eating in the living room instead of at a table, no problem. We have three couches and three recliners available for those of you who feel perfectly comfortable eating with your plate in your lap. Now that our 5,000-degree Summer is over, you can also eat outside at our picnic tables if you’d like.

The reason we gather is simple.

It’s a time for camaraderie.

Building friendships with other veterans is key for creating a support system you can call on whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, need to vent, problem-solve, or need another veteran to lean on during tough times. We don’t get through this world alone.

Different Tuesdays have different purposes, but we always eat comfort food.

Clint’s Camaraderie Cafe

Clint’s Cafe is simply a time for camaraderie with a group of peers. Meet other veterans who have been there and done that. Lots of banter, laughter and bonding happens during Clint’s Cafe.

Lunch & Learn

We’re starting something new once a month called “Lunch & Learn”, which are days when we have a guest speaker to tell us about something that will improve our lives in some way.

Men’s Veteran Lunch – 4th Tuesday

We reserve the 4th Tuesday of the month for male veterans to get together and eat. It’s a time for the men to discuss whatever they want. That doesn’t mean that spouses and significant others can’t come and eat also….we’ve reserved a separate, private room for them to gather also. Don’t worry, we’ve got a Women Veteran Lunch on a different day. (more about that coming soon)

Veteran & First Responder Lunch – 5th Tuesday

Months that have five Tuesdays are when we also invite Texoma’s First Responders to our table. They come into contact with veterans everyday.

They’re reaching veterans all across Texoma whom our volunteers might not be able to ever come across in our outreach efforts.

Additionally, many first responders are veterans. We want first responders to be very familiar with MVPN Texoma Community Center, with our volunteers and we want them to fully understand how we help veterans.

If you’re a veteran, please come gather at our table on a Tuesday that best suits you. If you know any veterans, please tell them about lunch on Tuesdays at Walker House!