Why is it important for society to invest in understanding and supporting mental health for veterans?
We need to learn how to connect with each other. Sometimes service members have a hard time connecting with people who haven’t been in the military. So that’s what the anthem is about. If a service member goes to a football game and they hear “The Veteran Anthem,” I don’t care if nobody there has ever been in the military. That is a connection that, “OK, they do remember me. I am still valuable. I feel the connection here. So, OK, I want to live another day.”
What motivates you to serve as a mouthpiece for veteran mental health?
My own experience. When I first came out of the military, I had a job lined up to be a civilian worker but still with the military. Because of the war, it fell through, so I got out of the military thinking that I had a job and I didn’t.
That’s actually where University of Phoenix came in. Because that job fell through, I went to school. So, University of Phoenix really played an instrumental part in my life because I had something to turn to.
I still see veterans on the street as if they don’t have access to the tools they need to move forward in life, but I know that they do because of my positions with the state and things that I’ve done.
That’s when I was like, “OK, they just need some inspiration to want to access these programs, to want to use that money [from military or disability benefits] for something that will benefit their lives.”
When I saw that, it was a really big motivation to write “The Veteran Anthem.” I saw that it’s not that we don’t have access to the resources. It was the inspirational piece that was missing.
Read more inspiring alumni stories on the blog!