It can be exciting to forge a new chapter in your life by shifting into a whole new career.
But for military veterans, the transition to civilian life can be jarring and difficult. Support is crucial as these former warriors face unanticipated challenges to their career, mental health and families.
It really helps to have someone to talk with — a person who understands your situation and who can point you toward resources in the community that will improve things. That’s the approach behind VetAdvisor, a program founded by a veteran in 2007 as part of a company called Three Wire Systems.
VetAdvisor supports veterans through telemental health services and other valuable advice. Since its inception, it has interacted with two million veterans nationwide.
Today is Veterans Day. Around the country, people are celebrating the veterans in their lives and taking note of the central role they play in American life. But tomorrow, as the country turns its attention in other directions, millions of veterans will still be facing real challenges like frustrating job searches and depression.
“We do not treat or diagnose but provide support and resources,” explains Three Wire Systems’ President of Behavioral Health Programs, Jennifer Christman. “What we do at VetAdvisor is provide holistic care to veterans and their family needs.”
Veterans throughout Pittsburgh have access to VetAdvisor’s assistance, which focuses on five areas: career guidance, financial guidance, behavioral health and wellness, and navigational advocacy. In the past two and a half years, the Johnstown-based program has served 150 veterans in Western Pennsylvania.
A team of 172 people work at the organization’s two call centers in Johnstown and Ebensburg.
“When you first come into the program, we do a general assessment and go through a series of questions in those five key areas and identify where a veteran may need support,” Christman says.
A veteran then works with a care representative, who is either a veteran or has had immersive military training and education. Together, they develop a personal plan.
The key? Understanding the issues behind a problem they face. Recently, the program received accreditation through the American Association of Suicidology, so that care representatives can address immediate crisis points, stabilize a situation and normalize a veteran’s future.
“Our CEO and founder Dan Frank is a veteran himself,” says Christman. “He wanted to develop a program that gives back to fellow veterans. He knew his transition had twists and turns, and it had been several years until the effects had come to play.”
Calling Frank “forward-thinking,” she says he combined his background as a veteran with innovation, people and technology when he established the parent company in 2006.
A former naval flight navigator, Frank chose the name Three Wire Systems as a homage to military service.
Christman says when you land naval aircraft on a carrier, there are four wires you could catch in order to land safely. Catching on the third wire is optimal for a smooth, safe touchdown. A metaphorical smooth, safe landing is VetAdvisor’s goal for all of the former military members they serve.
Three Wire Systems has two divisions: solutions and services. With a team of IT experts, it helps government agencies and companies find solutions for their businesses. These services include MyAdvisor, which serves first responders and emergency personnel, and VetAdvisor, which supports veterans.
“We designed VetAdvisor to augment what the VA may provide,” Christman says. “It is extremely impactful, the work we do.”