VA North Texas Health Care System
Veterans Recovery Center Empowers Veterans
The summer of 2005 began as an ordinary summer for Marine Corps Veteran Calvin Bowman. He would go to work, come home, eat red beans and rice with crawfish or shrimp and listen to some good ole jazz. Hurricane Katrina hit that August and Bowman's life changed dramatically.
He was suddenly homeless.
Bowman came to North Texas a few days after the hurricane on a charter bus. From one shelter to the next while dealing with the unexpected relocation and being separated from family, he found himself struggling to keep his life in order.
Through months of addiction and erratic behavior, Bowman finally said, "Enough is enough." One day at a shelter in Fort Worth, he sat in on a presentation given by VA. It was then he found out about the many resources available to him as a Veteran.
His life would change again.
Bowman learned about a program called Veterans Recovery Center (VRC). It was there he found hope and expectancy of better days ahead. "I was on the wrong track," he said. "I didn’t want to be a victim of my circumstances."
VRC incorporates individualism in the mental health recovery plan. The term recovery is no longer a word isolated to pertain solely to alcohol and drug-related problems; it is a term used to also address recovery from a mental illness. The self-directed process VRC uses helps Veterans by encouraging them to play a major role in their recovery. It gives them the opportunity to adjust or change their feelings, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions about life. Veterans at the VRC are active partners in all aspects of their care.
"My behavior was a reflection of my inner pain," Bowman said. "VRC enabled me to understand my pain and challenged me to make changes."
As a registered occupational therapist and licensed professional counselor working at the VRC, Armintia Alcorn has been Bowman's recovery partner for three years. "He [Bowman] was the ideal candidate for the program," said Alcorn. "He grasped the concept of recovery and got deeply involved. I am very proud of him."
By and large, VRC offers a variety of recovery groups, activities and opportunities which stimulate hope, progressive change, support and family education. The center focuses not just on recovery from an individual perspective, but also helps Veterans reintegrate into the community and refers them to other programs and services within VA to achieve optimum results.
In addition to his new found love for ceramics, Bowman enjoys going to the movies and also Texas rodeos. "We didn’t have rodeos in New Orleans," he said. "I still visit from time to time, but Texas is home now."
Bowman recently signed up to be a VA North Texas volunteer and also has plans to be a peer support specialist at VA and in the community.