There are a staggering number of Veterans and Armed Forces Service Personnel who face mental health challenges. Studies have shown that rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), among other mental health concerns, are much more common among service members than civilians. Sadly, studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that only half of Veterans who need mental health services receive them. Cesar, one of KYC’s staff members, works with Veterans and their families through his professional work and volunteerism, and we’re proud to recognize him as we prepare for Veteran’s Day later this month.
Cesar has a BA in Philosophy, MA in Theology, Master of Divinity, and a Doctorate in Ministry. While studying for his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Cesar is currently a Behavioral Support Specialist at KYC. He works with youth, helping them strengthen and practice the skills they learn in therapy to better equip them to use those strategies in real life situations.
Cesar is also a Military Service Member. He has served for more than 8 years as a U.S. Army Chaplain, and is currently a senior Captain. Chaplains provide spiritual and emotional guidance to military members and their families, often taking on the role of a counselor and confidant to the families who live on the military base. Cesar was part of the 807th Medical Command, and often saw soldiers with great physical injuries. While other medical personnel healed their physical wounds, Cesar helped soldiers repair and improve their emotional and spiritual health.
Cesar is currently on leave from active service and has taken this time to advance his education and grow his career in mental health. Cesar also volunteers with organizations that honor and care for our country’s Veterans.
Cesar’s Support for Veterans Organizations
Cesar has a strong desire to continue to honor fallen service members and Veterans, and has had a chance to do so through the Maywood Bataan Day Organization. The community and the Maywood Bataan Day Organization now hold an annual commemoration honoring the hundreds of young men from their community who served during World War II with the 192nd Tank Battalion. Through his work with this organization, Cesar has learned how previous generations of Veterans have faced their challenges with mental and emotional health after returning from service.
Cesar also works with Veterans of more recent wars, such as the Veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, with an organization called Warriors on the Way. Through Warriors on the Way, Cesar guides a group of Veterans through challenging terrain. Just as in life, sometimes their path is clear and simple, and other times it is tough, unstable, and uncertain. The goal of this trip is to help Veterans find a path to healing their emotional and psychological wounds as they find their path on their physical journey. Ultimately, the excursion reinforces that they are not alone, and no matter how difficult the path, their journey through life can also end happily.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs found that there were more than 6,000 Veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2016, and that Veteran suicide rates are nearly 1.5 times higher than for civilians. Cesar hopes for Veterans of all generations to be comfortable asking for help when facing mental health concerns, and wants our community members to know that resources like KYC are available and ready to help support individuals and families address mental health needs.
Closing Remarks from KYC
Kenneth Young Center sincerely thanks all Veterans for their service to our country. We are truly grateful to all of the Veterans and service members in the KYC family, including staff members, volunteers, donors, clients, and supporters.
This Veterans Day, we honor those who have served and protected our country, and we work to ensure that we can now help protect them. KYC is here as a resource for anyone going through a tough time, and want you to know that you are not alone. If you or anyone you know could use some extra support, please call KYC at 847−524−8800. If you are a Veteran having thoughts of suicide, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1−800−273−8255 and press 1.
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