Veterans Talk Radio Features VFR CEO, second of a series
The following is based on a radio interview with VFR CEO Eric Golnick, on the show Veterans Talk Radio with Stryker and Doc, WHNH, Concord, NH 94.7. on August 16, 2018. WHNH schedule can be found on its website at http://www.wnhnfm.org/. In the interview, Golnick gives a us very personal inside view of how VFR works, and how it was created. We thought our readers would be interested. Second of a series.
Stryker: How did you personally find a way, a road to your own recovery?
EG: Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first, like a lot of vets aren’t sure, what would work. It took me a while to find something that actually got me to a better place and it was a rough experience finding that.
Fast forward to now. With my best buddy I started this company to treat both substance use and mental health in a way that understands what vets have been through, in active service and reintegrating. In the field we call that cultural competence and it is a clinical skill set that is absolutely vital to have.
Cultural competence in treating vets and first responders isn’t well-documented for providers yet. A senior person at VFR teaches it at Harvard, and we are really proud of our abilities there, but we are still one of a few.
Doc: That’s what I see in my practice, too.
EG: I’ll bet. So in a nutshell, that’s why I started this company along with my best friend. We went to college together. We served together. Now we are VFR.
VFR AND THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION
EG: People ask how we relate to the VA. We did this to help the V.A., to fill gaps in their services. We’re not in competition with the VA. As a matter of fact we just signed a historic agreement with the VA, a strategic partnership. We’re going to work together to share information. And we’re there like I mentioned to fill gaps in VA services and coverage. And we’re there to help immediately, wherever we can.
“NOBODY IS GOING TO HEAR US SAY: WE CAN’T HELP YOU, GOOD LUCK”
Stryker: I believe you’ve got the cultural competence. So how does it all work? Someone walks in the door, and…
EG: First, if it’s a former first responder or former veteran, they’re going to have that full bio psychosocial, where we can see their experiences, and say OK here’s your need. We can meet many of those needs and we will begin to explain how.
But guess what? We might not be the best fit. They might need a different level of care, different from our extended, local outpatient treatment. Even then we will help them find the best place to go.
EG: Well, we’re not doing detox, for example, so the initial assessment may be you need a detox partner first.
Point is, nobody is going to hear: “We can’t help you. Good luck,” Nobody. It’s going to be a positive handoff to whoever is the proper level of care.
Doc: Communication. Is everyone listening?
EG: And that’s why we have built a lot of partnerships. Show me the organization that is good at doing everything. We want to be good at one thing. We want to be good at the outpatient model, especially one that understands vets and first responders, and we want to partner for other needs.
Doc: OK, they’ve done their detox. Now they come back to you. What next?
EG: They work with a clinician that really gets to know them. They might need an Intensive Outpatient Program which is three hours per group session three times per week. If so, we’re going to introduce them into that group. IOP is our specialty.
Listen, this is important for your listeners to understand. Beginning recovery is a very humbling experience. It takes a while to open up. As for me, I didn’t open up immediately and was sitting in the back, arms crossed. So it’s important to have both the group IOP and a one-on-one relationship in tandem with it. There’s a reason for it. But give it a chance and it will change your life.