“He Gets It” VFW National Home Vets Receive Lifegiving Peer Support
“We speak the same language and civilians just don’t understand it,” says a veteran resident currently living at the VFW National Home.
“The gamut of emotions is hard to express unless it’s to a fellow veteran,” says the former Navy BM2.
She’s talking about her interaction with Kyle Tiffany, the VFW National Home’s Certified Peer Support Specialist who works with veteran residents to help them receive the services and benefits they’re entitled to as well as any needed counseling.
“I’m the buffer between the veteran and the clinicians,” says Kyle who just joined the VFW National Home Veteran and Family Resource Center staff in November, but has been working as a Michigan certified peer support specialist for the past five years.
“Some people come back from deployment and don’t know how to deal with not having military in their life anymore. They served and can’t serve anymore because they are injured in one way or another and no longer meet military standards. They’re experiencing loss and they are not used to interacting with civilians,” he adds.
He’s Been There
Kyle advises from personal experience. He served eight plus years in the Army with involvement in multiple country and conflicts, as well as deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“When I left the military it was important to talk with someone when I was feeling anxious or depressed. Now I’m in a position to help those who are experiencing what I experienced. There’s always a ladder out there and they may need help climbing it,” he expressed.
Kyle meets with veteran residents one-on-one, but also offers peer group meetings where he facilitates a small group of three to five veterans to discuss VA benefits, past history, and how they are transitioning to civilian life.
Serves As a Bridge to VA Services
For those suffering from either physical or mental war wounds, Kyle helps them establish a “service connection” which enables them to receive a primary care doctor through the VA, and additional services depending on the severity of the injury.
“If they can’t get a hold of a doctor, I reach out and try to get them connected. If a caseworker can’t get a hold of a veteran, I reach out to that veteran,” says Kyle who makes initial contact with VFW National Home veterans a few days after they move in and are settled on campus.
Kyle says at first they hesitate to talk with him and once they do, say “I wish you had been here months ago.”
One veteran whose been at the VFW National Home over a year says of Kyle, “He helps with so many issues. He’s a wealth of knowledge. He’s not just a one hit wonder. He’s a one-man band.”