HST 017: Veterans Counseling Veterans with Tony Williams

SUMMARY:

Ellsworth “Tony” Williams is a Combat Army Veteran, having faithfully and honorably served on active duty in the Army for over 24 years (8 enlisted and 16 Commissioned), including service during Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He received numerous military awards including a Bronze Star and 3 Meritorious Service Medals (MSM). After he retired in 2007, he still wanted to continue to serve his fellow veterans, so he rebranded himself by getting a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Troy University. Upon graduation he founded and is the current President/CEO for Veterans Counseling Veterans Inc. Tony is married to Thelma Williams who is a retired Police Detective from Plainfield, NJ.

Tony has received numerous mental health counseling awards including a 2014 National Award “ Social Service” from American Mental Health Counseling Association and won Florida Mental Health Counselor Association(FMHCA) 2015 Poster Award.

Tony serves on many Boards and Councils including Hillsborough Veterans Council, Florida Mental Health Counselor Association and Suncoast Mental Health Counselor Association’s Military Interest Committees, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay’s Regional Veterans Advisory Council and American Legion Post 5 Veteran Affairs and Rehabilitation Committee Chair.

IN THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:

  •  Tony’s military service, including transitions from a military family member, to enlisted, to college student, to officer
  • Leaving the military and working as a contractor for local law enforcement, a substitute teacher, and shifting to veteran mental health
  • Helping veterans and their families, due to his own experience as a military family member and service member
  • Being open to potential careers after the military, harnessing the adaptability that we had while in the military
  • Figuring out how to be “you” after the military
  • Not getting locked into what you’re doing when you first get out, because you may not keep doing that
  • Veteran Mental Health in Florida, including interning for the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • The need for Veterans to become mental health professionals, in order to leverage the connection that is automatically relatable
  • The ability for community providers, who are military culturally competent, to be able to have honest discussions about veteran mental health
  • How the military rewards cognitive thinking rather than emotion, and supports collective thinking rather than individual thinking
  • Developing a real understanding about service members for mental health professionals
  • The lack of effort in preparing a service member for transition compared to preparing a civilian to enter in the military
  • The people who are making decisions about transition think cognitively rather than understanding the impact of veteran mental health on transition
  • Tony’s organization focused around TEAMS: Training, Education, Advocacy, Mentorship, and Service
  • The lack of treatment support for the family of veterans
  • The ungrounded culture of military families, and how military kids are “plug and play,” which takes a toll on someone
  • The lack of connection and relationship to the African American community as a military brat and service member
  • Helping veterans understand that seeking mental health support can be more of a team mentality rather than an individual mentality; starting with the group to get to the individual

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Veterans Counseling Veterans Website

Vets Counseling Vets Facebook Group

 

 

 

 

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Duane France
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Duane K. L. France is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a mental health counselor practicing in the state of Colorado. Do you want to join the conversation regarding veteran mental health? Share, like, and comment. Read Duane's previous posts and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep the conversation about #veteranmentalhealth going.