The New Veteran Wellness Center: Why El Paso?
Last Updated: 01 Nov 2022
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Our brand new Veteran Wellness Center will be uniquely El Paso. But what exactly does that mean?
Why are so many Veterans choosing to live in El Paso?
Could it be because of William Beaumont, the phenomenal military medical treatment facility, the small-town feel, the abundance of Veteran-related services and resources, or the close-knit military community?
The question has many answers (and maybe that’s the point), but the fact remains: the Veteran population in El Paso is strong and quickly growing.
So, when it came time for us to select the next location for our Veteran Wellness Center model, it was obvious: Veterans are choosing El Paso, and we are choosing Veterans. So we purchased a parcel of land embedded between two highly concentrated military and Veteran zip codes and got to work designing a facility to meet the needs of the community.
Setting the Stage
Due to El Paso’s large Veteran population, Endeavors has had a presence in the city for the past five years. We have established programs and clinic work and relationships with clients and with the community.
However, even though we have seen firsthand (and are a part of) a strong continuum of care for Veterans, we still see a need for improved and continued care. According to our community’s annual Point in Time count, as many as 80 Veterans are unhoused each evening. When we performed a Veteran needs assessment in January 2020, we discovered that Veterans and their families report seven major needs going unmet.
Naturally the question is: how do we connect these Veterans with the resources they need?
The answer was the Veteran Wellness Center.
About the VWC Model
The VWC Model is a suicide prevention model. It aims to address the six major areas that lead to Veteran suicide (mind-body, connectedness, spiritual, environmental, economic, and knowledge) and improve their quality of life. Our pioneer VWC facility is located in San Antonio (dubbed Military City USA) and serves the high concentration of Veterans in that south-central Texas area. We have seen tremendous success with our model, which offers comprehensive and integrated mental and physical health services to support the daily wellness needs of any-era Veterans and their families.
Our San Antonio VWC provides telehealth and in-person mental health services to Veterans with chronic long-term mental health needs (e.g., bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders) and their families. Members have access to integrated health, mental health, and holistic activities, including acupuncture, yoga, and tai chi, as well as a large state-of-the-art fitness center.
However, when we created this facility, we created it with San Antonio in mind. So when the time came for us to consider what the El Paso facility would look like, we had to start from square one: what does El Paso really need?
What Do Veterans need?
When we surveyed 1,600 Veterans and their families in the El Paso area, they identified these top needs: claims assistance, employment assistance, mental health services, legal assistance, Veteran-centric social groups, peer support, and financial assistance.
Once we were able to identify these needs, we took it a step further: what is stopping Veterans from getting these needs met? They identified that the top 3 barriers were: the lack of accessibility, systematic barriers to receiving care, lack of information on available resources.
Therefore, when we built our model, we built it to meet those seven needs and eliminate the barriers: providing programs addressing each need and housing it all in one accessible location in El Paso.
“This needs perspective was very unique,” said Ben Miranda, Director of Business Operations for Endeavors. “Nothing like this had never been done before in El Paso. It’s a very methodical approach, and it helps us fill the gap.”
Customized to El Paso’s Needs
“El Paso’s needs are not the same as San Antonio’s needs,” said Mark Riddick, Regional Director of Behavioral Health Operations at Endeavors. “So we’ve really taken the time and care to customize it to meet the needs of the El Paso community.”
At our El Paso location, that meant incorporating similar things to the San Antonio facility (mental health care, physical health, occupational therapy, physical therapy, holistic health education, and supportive services), but also new features like primary care and a pharmacy.
“This is the first time we’re getting an opportunity to truly design a custom center,” said Mark. “The El Paso VWC is the first facility we’ve had the freedom to intentionally mold and craft to be exactly what the community wants. Everything from the design of the building to the people inside the building is uniquely El Paso.”
That includes collaborating with other organizations and resources that are helping Veterans in the El Paso area. We want to maximize the people being helped and streamline the process of connecting Veterans with the extensive network of available care.
“There’s a symphony of organizations that are looking to do something great for some well deserving people,” said Mark. “We have so many community partners that are eager to help.”
The VWC Is For the Community
“I’m from El Paso,” said Ben. “Everybody in El Paso knows a Veteran. The majority of our population in El Paso has a connection to a Veteran somehow, whether they employ a Veteran, are related to a Veteran, or are friends with a Veteran, the network is strong.”
This is why we don’t just serve Veterans, we also serve their families and community of care. We believe taking care of this population as a whole is taking care of the El Paso community.
“These Veterans don’t serve by themselves. Their families sacrifice so much. In a way, the family also serves. And we take care of everybody who served,” said Mark.
“It’s important for our community to know that this Wellness Center is here for Veterans and their families,” said Ben. “If you’re a spouse of a Veteran or a sibling or mother or father or child of a Veteran, the VWC can help you.”
The VWC will be completed in 2024, but Veterans and their families don’t need to wait for this brick and mortar to be open. Our Endeavors services are up and running in El Paso. If you need services right now, contact us for telehealth, Cohen Clinic offerings, Veteran Supportive Services, homeless prevention programs, and more at 915-320-1390.
“Connect with us now because we are already serving El Paso,” said Ben. “We’ve been serving El Paso for the last five years, so don’t wait till this Wellness Center is open. You can connect with us now for assistance.”
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.