Last year, clinical services and peer support was provided to over 34,000 veterans, their family members and active duty military by Texas Veteran Commission certified Peer Service Coordinators of the Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN) and Rural Veteran Counselors.
In recognition of their service, commitment and achievements, the Texas Veteran Commission (TVC) Veterans Mental Health Department (VMHD) honored Rural Veteran Counselors and the volunteers of MVPN with an appreciation event, held March 28, 2023 in Dallas. Excellence in Service Awards were presented to those whose accomplishments went above and beyond. The event attracted over 70 attendees.
Specifically, last year, MVPN provided over 90,000 direct services such as individual and group peer support and warm hand offs to local services including clinical mental health referrals. They trained 3,663 people in military cultural competency and suicide prevention.
Rural Veteran Counselors provided 692 individual therapy hours to veterans and their families, and even to active service members who might have otherwise avoided seeking treatment. They provided another 192 family, couples, and group sessions.
“That’s how you save lives,” said Chip Osborne, Texas Veterans Commission Resource Management Director and U.S. Army veteran in addressing the attendees.
The following awards were presented:
Excellence in Adaptability Award
to East Texas Area MVPN Peer Service Coordinator and Army veteran Bradley Erickson from ACCESS for his ability to adjust and overcome obstacles to achieve the mission of the MVPN. Pictured below, Erickson, center, receives his award from TVC Director Osborne, at left, and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay, who is also an Army veteran.
Excellence in Commitment Award
to Midland/Odessa and Big Bend area MVPN Peer Service Coordinator and Army veteran Jayni Whitefield from PermiaCare for her selfless service and outstanding commitment to her peers and those she serves. Pictured below, Whitefield, center, receives her award from TVC Director Osborne, at left, and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.
Excellence in Leadership Award
to Galveston area MVPN Peer Service Coordinator and Air Force veteran Glen McGraw from Gulf Coast Center for exemplary leadership and ability to inspire a motivating work atmosphere within MVPN for the past ten years. Pictured below, McGraw receives his award from TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.
Excellence in Compassion Award
to Conroe area MVPN Peer Service Coordinator and Navy veteran Shirley Uriostegui from Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare for her diligence to cultivating empathy and camaraderie among her peers and those she serves. Pictured below, Uriostegui, center, receives her award from TVC Director Osborne, at left, and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.
Excellence in Teamwork Awards
to El Paso area MVPN Peer Service Coordinators Shelia Anthony, Army veteran, and Natalie Castro, Army veteran and Navy family member from Emergence Health Network in El Paso for a positive and collaborative team approach to accomplishing the mission of MVPN. Pictured below, Castro, center left and Anthony center right, receive their award from TVC Director Osborne, at left, and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.
Excellence in Commitment Award
to Rural Veteran Counselor Rachel Mims, LPC from Heart of Texas MHMR Center for her willingness to go the extra mile and provide training to her fellow rural veteran counselors, and her strong advocacy for the veteran community. Pictured below, Mims, center, receives her award from TVC Director Osborne, at left, and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.
Excellence in Partnership and Service Award
to state partners George McEntyre and State of Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) Veterans Mental Health Services for excellence in partnership of state agencies and providing significant services to the Service Members, Veterans and Families (SMVF) Community. Thank you for your commitment and dedication in service to the SMVF across the state of Texas. Pictured below, McEntyre, center, accepts the partnership award for HHSC from TVC Director Osborne, at left, and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.
Award of Appreciation
presented to TVC partners at Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative for excellence in partnership to champion suicide prevention and postvention efforts to the broad community, and specifically the Service Members, Veterans and Families community. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to community awareness and countless services and efforts to reduce veteran suicide across the state of Texas. Pictured below, the award is accepted by Texas Suicide Prevention Collaborative Executive Director Lisa Sullivan, at far right, from TVC VMHD Director Dr. Blake Harris, center, and TVC VMHD Community and Faith-Based Program Manager John L. Wilson.
Additionally, John L. Wilson, Lt Col USAF Retired, and TVC VMHD Community and Faith-Based Program Manager who retires in May 2023 was honored “in recognition and appreciation for your outstanding service to the Texas Veterans Commission from April of 2019 to May of 2023. Your exemplary service, dedication to duty and professionalism have directly contributed to the success of the organization.” Pictured below for the retirement recognition from left are TVC VMHD Director Dr. Blake Harris, TVC Director Osborne, Wilson and TVC Deputy Director Shawn Deabay.