At Ease maintains patients' confidentiality so the names of military members and veterans in this article have been changed to protect their identities.
A handful of veterans sit talking. One strums a ukulele. They've been to Iraq and Afghanistan and have served peacetime deployments in South America and Asia. Most are Marines, but regardless of branch, they consider each other family.
William, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, has been working more hours lately. While he is tired more often, he is sleeping better. "I'm up to about four to five hours [of sleep each night]," he said.
Little victories, but worth celebrating here at At Ease USA, a Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska program for veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or other behavioral and mental health issues. Located just outside Omaha in Bellevue, Neb., the program is only minutes away from Offutt Air Force Base.
|Sharon Robino-West, a therapist for Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska's At Ease USA program, leads group therapy for William and other military veterans.|
The program's confidential help for military members (active duty and veterans) and their families "is a way of expressing God's love to people who serve [in the military]," said Ruth Henrichs, CEO of Lutheran Family Services. If patients can't afford care or if their insurance doesn't cover it, At Ease offers treatment at no cost.
It began in 2009 with some Omaha-area residents who had watched friends deal with the effects of war. Knowing that countless other military members needed support, they formed At Ease and asked Lutheran Family Services to administer aid.
Since Lutheran Family Services already provided similar programs to the general public, expanding those services to veterans was a logical step. "This is a way to give back to those who serve," Henrichs said. "At Ease fits with our mission."
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