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FIVE STAR PROGRAMS
With the goal of getting homeless veterans mentally and physically healthy so they can return to work, reunite with their families and successfully regain control of their lives, Five Star has two primary programs in place: The Passport to Independence Program and the Veteran’s Counseling Initiative.
Passport to Independence Program: (Initiated spring 2012)
The Passport to Independence Program was the basis upon which the Five Star Veterans Center was founded. It moves Veterans through a four-phase program aimed at helping them live and thrive independently. The goal is to take veterans who have fallen on difficult times – in many cases due to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) or substance abuse – and gives them the opportunity, treatment, direction, case management and encouragement to restore them physically, psychologically and financially. In the short-term, the Center provides housing, food, clothing, medical attention if needed, and counseling. Over time, they hope to restore each veteran’s dignity, sense of security and self respect, and the ability to manage their lives and succeed independently.
PHASE 1 is getting the veteran into the Center and determining what he or she needs and if they qualify to stay. An application, DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty), Negative TB Skin Test and local background checks are required.
Upon admission, each new resident has an orientation session with the Operations Manager. It is at this time their room is assigned, toiletries and clothes provided, appointments with VA Benefits case workers, counselors and medical professionals are coordinated to determine eligibility and complete applications for benefits and begin addressing physical and psychological medical needs.
PHASE 2 includes participating in counseling sessions to help residents determine if they are willing to commit to the program, and signing the Resident Contract, which says they will…
· Comply with Center rules and regulations
· Continue stabilization of medical and psychological conditions; medication compliance
· Remain under the guidance of in-house case manager and/or designated medical personnel
· Do chores
· Participate in life-skill classes (First aid, CPR, Financial planning and debt reduction, PC proficiency, etc.)
· Attend individual and group therapy programs
During this Phase residents also work with their case worker and counselors to develop short-term goals to address physical, financial, psychological and family-focused actions, remedies and desired outcomes.
PHASE 3 is when Veterans are asked to look longer-term. The resident develops a Comprehensive Transition Plan – actions and a timeline for achieving independent living. Currently, phases 2 and 3 can blend together, but the ultimate goal and achievements are the same. In the ideal breakdown, this is when the resident focuses on…
· Skills assessment & development
· Career/wardrobe counseling
· Employment search; resume and interview skills development
· Advanced educational opportunities
· Finding a job or enrolling in job-focused training
· Opening a bank account and saving money. Financial skills are key – Saving money, paying bills, budgeting funds.
· Continued participation in individual and group therapy programs
PHASE 4 is the time to take the first steps into independent living. Phase 4 is when the resident plans to moves out. As they get closer to moving into their own place…
· Job progress is monitored
· Housing is identified
· Finance adequacy is addressed (can they pay for deposits on an apartment, to get utilities turned on, pay child support, alimony, back taxes, court costs, etc.)
· Participation in individual and group therapy programs continues
After move-out, the Center provides continuing support. For three to six months, the Center Case Worker assists with psychological, VA, Financial assistance and/or other required needs.
Today, 31 residents live at the Center. Each resident …
Perhaps one of the most cherished parts of living at Five Star is the family atmosphere and regained sense of belonging that comes with it.
Veteran’s Counseling Initiative: (Pilot program initiated January 2015)
The Veteran’s Counseling Initiative is designed to support the Passport to Independence Program and assist both Five Star residents and veterans in the community at large deal with mental health issues that interfere with their ability to hold jobs, maintain family relationships and succeed financially.
This program offers:
· · Access by any veteran in NE Florida
· · An on-site Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) providing mental health and substance abuse counseling services to returning veterans
· · Clinical Mental Health Counseling Masters students to provide counseling under supervision
· · A Case Manager to direct referrals and access to services
· · A Veterans Services Officer to assist with Veterans Administration benefits
· · Supportive Employment Specialists to enhance the veteran’s employment success
· · Partnership with regional employers to assist in job placement
· · A residential facility that is safe, secure and provides each veteran with a private room
· · Meals prepared on-site
Program Partners include:
· · University of North Florida’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
· · Messiah College
· · Florida Veterans Administration
· · Duval and Clay County Veterans Treatment Courts
· · Jacksonville Transportation Authority
· · Jacksonville Housing Authority
· · Florida Veterans Foundation
· · Feeding Northeast Florida Food Bank
· · City of Jacksonville Veterans Services Office
· · Home Depot, Community Foundation and a variety of local restaurants
· · Provide mental health and substance abuse treatment to prepare veterans for work
· · Move veterans into supportive employment
· · Integrate veterans back into society after their service to our country
· · Help make Florida the most veteran friendly state in the union
· · Provide special trauma treatment to veterans with PTSD and TBI issues
· · Increase Center capacity to accommodate additional homeless veterans, for a total of 42 available beds/rooms
· · Increase veteran access to licensed mental health counseling
· · Provide a statewide model that leads to employment for veterans
Most veterans who live at Five Star have mental health issues, including addiction (gambling and substance abuse), combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), combat-related Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, Adjustment Disorder, Personality Disorder and Neuro-cognitive Disorder (TBI and Huntington’s Disease).
Prior to being offered housing at Five Star, each applicant is evaluated by the on-site Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Trish Barton, to determine the type and level of treatment they might need. Participation in the mental health program is a residency requirement, and both group and individual counseling/therapy sessions are mandatory for every veteran who chooses to live at the center.
The LMHC oversees a team of 4 interns -- One registered intern (a registered intern is one who has graduated from an accredited course of Masters level studies and is working their 2000 hours under supervision as required for licensure) and 3 student interns (still in their course of studies). Individual counseling needs are assessed by the LMHC, and both individual counseling sessions and group therapies appropriate to the population are identified and delivered by the team.
Residents participate in group sessions that address issues such as Conflict Resolution, Re-integration, Stress Management, Life Skills and Trauma-related Paradigms. They also provide aftercare counseling services for up to one year free of charge to Five Star Veteran graduates and their family members. Many residents with PTSD have an addiction problem with alcohol, drugs or gambling. The open-ended, ongoing addictions group is one of the strongest groups in the Veterans Counseling Initiative. Both in group and individual work, the counselors help veterans confront their addictions, gain control over their addiction behavior, and address underlying issues. In many cases they are winning the battle of addiction.