The American government spends about $30 billion a year to compensate injured American servicemen and women, the Associated Press reported. But access to the treatment, counseling and therapy veterans need isn’t always easy to find, often causing veterans to suffer while remaining untreated.
Professor and clinical psychotherapist Henry Schissler and Iraq war veteran James Cote started the Soldier’s Project CT, a non-profit center that provides free essential services to Connecticut veterans.
“We’re raising awareness in the community for the needs of veterans and advocating services for veterans and military members in general,” Cote said.
Cote is a Marine and served two tours in Iraq since 9/11.
“I had a personal obligation because I served in the Marine Corps,” Cote said. “I had a very positive experience while deployed in Iraq. I’ve known military that have come back and have not had a positive experience at all. The desire was to kind of give back to those who put so much on the line.”
The center offers counseling for trauma disorders, family reconciliation counseling, group therapy, treatment services for alcohol and drug abuse or addiction and Veterans for Veterans support groups.
The center opened in Cheshire in August and has already begun helping a number of Iraq war veterans. In addition to the counseling services, Soldier’s Project CT also serves as a fitness center with classes including mixed martial arts, relaxation groups and nutrition counseling.
“The veteran experience is very different from the civilian experience,” Schissler said. “So what I found was that there are tremendous problems. We have a homeless veteran problem that is shameful. We have traumatic brain-injured vets and we have post-traumatic stress disorder vets that are not getting service. So what I learned from James was the intensity of the problems that we faced.”
If Quinnipiac students think they have a busy schedule, they should take a look at Schissler’s. He is a part-time Quinnipiac sociology professor, a full-time Housatonic Community College professor and still finds time to run the Soldier’s Project CT.
The center relies on donations, corporate sponsorships, and fundraising activities to fund the programs.
Once soldiers return to Connecticut after being deployed, they often find it hard to fit back into civilian life. One of the center’s main focuses is to help transition them back into society.
“They feel like they don’t belong in the culture that they were ultimately a part of before they went into service,” Schissler said.
Cote invites all veterans, including those studying at Quinnipiac, to contact him at 808-224-5686 or come down to the center to see if any of the services could be of help to the men and women involved in the armed forces.