Free, Online Peer Support Can Help Veterans Find Emotional Resilience

NW PA Counties graphicThe Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families. The PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) is an active partner and responsible for ensuring that the Program integrates current Veteran suicide prevention initiatives throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The following information about ReST (Resilience, Strength, Time) 4 VETS is provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The original article was written by Robert Hernandez, Marine Corps Veteran & VOA|ReST 4 VETS Facilitator

Please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to speak with someone about publicizing the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program in your community.
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ReST 4 VETS Helps Veterans Connect

Rest4VetsI served in the Marine Corps from 2000 to 2004, and I served in Iraq as part of one of the first units to deploy during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I had no idea what I was going to experience. At first, when everything was over, I figured “I’m going to be ok.” I had no idea of the life I was going to have after combat, and I thought that nothing had changed within me. But, in time, I began to experience survivor’s guilt, anger, depression, loss of hope, detachment from family members, and loss of certain beliefs and morals flooded in. Because these things came from my time in service, I had no one to talk to about it after. I’d bottle everything up and self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. I tried getting help from VA, but at times I couldn’t go through with it. I was afraid and skeptical.

In November 2017, I was introduced to a life changing program from Volunteers of America. ReST (Resilience, Strength, Time) 4 VETS allowed me to see the benefits of expressing myself and listening to others. Times that I felt hopeless, defeated or numb were changed when I was heard by other Veterans like myself. There was an understanding among us—a look you would only get from people in your platoon or squad: That look said “We have your back and we’re listening. We hear you.”

Now, as a Veteran peer support specialist, I’ve seen others who have faced a similar struggle, and I know they don’t have to fix anything alone. VOA|ReST 4 VETS helps each of us carry our loads.

All it takes is an hour on your phone, tablet or computer, and you can share what you are carrying with a small group of other Veterans. Any time you feel down on yourself, defeated, worried, useless or hopeless—ReST 4 VETS is a place to turn.

VOA|ReST 4 Veterans is confidential, free and open to all Veterans. When you click on the links, you’ll be asked to create an account in HeyPeers. Then you’ll see the times for Veterans to meet. Pick one that fits your schedule and join us!

Looking to Get Involved?

friends standing togetherWhether you identify as a healthcare provider, community organization, or Veteran, there are several opportunities through the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program and PERU to connect to resources, participate in educational training, and promote harm reduction strategies. We are actively recruiting healthcare and community partners to work with us in meeting our goals and objectives. To learn more, visit the program website at

Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

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