H-PACT: enhances relationships, fights homelessness and saves lives



Marshall’s Success Story

My name is Michael Marshall. I am a 49-year-old U.S. Air Force Veteran who has been diagnosed with PTSD. I had a promising career with the Air Force until an unfortunate incident occurred, one in which I was too embarrassed to ever speak of again. So I self-medicated. That proved to be the beginning of a series of extremely bad choices and a downward spiral that eventually lead me to prison. I went on to using and selling all types of drugs for the next 20 years of my life.

I come from a very close-knit family that goes to church faithfully and is very involved within the church. One day in a moment of clarity, I saw my family and myself deteriorating to the point of certain death. I had lost my brother and father to the disease of addiction, yet I self-medicated even more than them just to cover up how I really felt about what was going within me. I had gotten to the point where I found myself on the streets of Chicago, without a home for roughly 10 years. I found myself living in and out of abandoned houseAs Ajust to stay warm on winter nights.

When I came to the Jesse Brown VA, I was told about the H-PACT Clinic. Although I had heard about the services available at the VA, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone just how far I had fallen and what had happened to me. They promptly sprang into action with an abundance of services which included a Primary Care Provider. The H-PACT Primary Care Provider was my initial contact within the Homeless Program. From there I was linked with Dental Care, Transitional Housing, treatment for my addiction, and therapy for my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Cognitive Processing Therapy was the most important of all, because it renewed my self-esteem and self-worth.

Then I was referred to the HUD-VASH Program; and I now have a 3-bedroom apartment.I was also referred to the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Program, which further gave me the opportunity to re-equip myself with the tools necessary to once again become a productive member of society.

I currently work in Recreation Therapy Services through the CWT Program. Working with other Veterans and employees of Jesse Brown VA has raised my spiritual awareness and given me a whole new perspective on life. All of the treatment that I received enables me to confront life; not as a giant of my dreams nor a dwarf of my fears, but as a man. I am truly grateful to have walked into the H-PACT Clinic and to have followed the suggestions of the H-PACT team, because now I’m humbly at the doorstep of a promising career and a renewed quality life.

Marshall is one of many Veterans who have benefitted from VA’s H-PACT program and continues to lead successful lives because of it.

The H-PACT program recorded several milestones earlier this year – serving more than 10,000 Veterans in 44 VA facilities across the country. In April, the office launched its first network-wide quality improvement initiative.

“We chose reducing emergency department use as the tar-get, not because it holds greater significance than others but because it ultimately reflects the aggregate sum of all we are trying to do: building high quality, team-based care; bringing in highest-risk and highest-need Veterans; and effectively engaging them in clinical care while addressing their homelessness and other social needs,” said Dr. Thomas O’Toole, H-Pact’s national director. “This is what it means to be an H-PACT.”

Nationally, H-PACTs reduced emergency department use among some of the most complex and difficult-to-care-for patients in the VA system by 25-30 percent – providing Veterans with more personalized care.

“The work within a H-PACT team is critical to our mission of ending homelessness among Veterans,” O’Toole said. “Creating the capacity to quickly respond when someone does become homeless to minimize the consequences, caring for them during those high-risk transitional periods, and keeping them from returning to homelessness defines our focus.

“Caring for our Veterans this way not only enhances the provider/patient relationship, but actually improves systems efficiencies, saves money, and most importantly, helps our Veterans permanently leave homeless-ness. This is what we are showing can happen.”

To learn more about H-PACT Teams visit http://www.va.gov/homeless/h_pact.asp.

Author

Gary Hicks

is the Director of VA’s Office of Digital Media Engagement. He is a former managing editor of a daily newspaper and a Veteran of the U.S. Army. Gary’s wife is a senior master sergeant stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Comments

  1. Martin T Screeton    

    Great story! I had a similar experience with the VA Hospital here several years ago for which I am so grateful!

  2. Bob Byanski    

    Self medicated with beer till God gave me hypertension in stroke territory. Mr Bernstein in the Washington, D.C. VA Hospital “Alcohol Treatment” ward did good on me. VA meds at Jesse Brown Chicago VA Hospital is orders from Dr. Reddy & God !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. JM    

    “All of the treatment that I received enables me to confront life; not as a giant of my dreams nor a dwarf of my fears, but as a man.” Michael Marshall, thank you for sharing this beautiful insight.

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