When Veterans stop in the Vet Center in South Bend, Ind., they will get help and advice from an Army Veteran who understands where they’ve been, what they’ve been through and what they need to do to take back their lives.
Danielle Green, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, is the team leader at the South Bend Vet Center. While serving in Iraq in 2004, an RPG explosion slammed shrapnel into her arm and changed her life. Losing her left arm between her wrist and elbow, Green underwent numerous surgeries and extensive rehabilitation.
Give up? Quit? No way! This is a woman who played basketball at Notre Dame well enough to be in their record books as one of the leading scorers of all time. A woman who grew up on the streets of Chicago.
On to graduate school and a degree as a school counselor. That’s when she decided “my mission” was to help other servicemembers make their difficult transition back to civilian life.
Green sees her experience in the Army as the catalyst for a new view of life. “Although my military time was cut short due to my catastrophic injury in Baghdad, I am proud to say that I served for one of the biggest teams in the world. The military enhanced my perspective about team work, selfless service, leadership, commitment, sacrifice and going beyond any perceived limitations.”
Her primary job at the Vet Center is “Providing leadership and guidance to my staff and the combat Veterans that we serve. In broader terms, I am the Supervisory Readjustment Counseling Therapist at the South Bend Vet Center.”
She is responsible for managing the overall operations of the Vet Center, building community relationships and providing quality readjustment counseling services to returning combat Veterans and their family members.
And what does she tell Veterans who come in and have doubts about VA health care?
“No system is perfect. Give the system an opportunity to address your needs instead of allowing others to project their personal experiences and feelings upon you. Everyone’s experiences are different.
“I have utilized the VA health care system for 11 years and I have witnessed massive changes that have improved the quality of my life.”
Service recognized at national award ceremony
This summer, Green appeared on national television as the recipient of the “2015 Pat Tillman Award for Service” at ESPN’s Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards (ESPY).
Receiving the award, Green eloquently remarked, “We can all find ways to serve our community. We can all find ways to support the people around us. We can all find a purpose on this earth larger than ourselves.”
She believes working for VA is one way to find that purpose. “Because my military service was cut short due to injury, I look at working for the VA as my opportunity to continue serving. My personal reward is the privilege and honor to continue serving my country by providing readjustment counseling services to those men and women who volunteered to defend the United States of America.”
And she recalls an encounter earlier this year as an example of how she is able to “continue serving.”
“Several months ago a Marine arrived to the Vet Center with substance abuse issues which led to blackouts. He eventually lost his job. He arrived at the center distraught but knew he needed to change or he would risk losing his family and everything he stood for.
“We can all find a purpose on this earth larger than ourselves.”
“After assessing, we developed a comprehensive plan which involved one of our community partners (WorkOne). We utilized acceptance and commitment strategies and metaphors to help this Veteran reintegrate, reconnect and increase his psychological flexibility.
“He stopped drinking with the support of his wife, reconnected to his spirituality and found employment at a company that needed his skillset. Most importantly, he regained a sense of purpose, increased his self-esteem and reconnected to his Marine values.”
That Marine always thanks the Vet Center for his recovery and he encourages other Veterans to seek services.
And we all thank Danielle Green, a brave soldier and a remarkable person, for her commitment and dedication to helping America’s Veterans.