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New veteran-run mental health council set to visit Coos County

The World - 3/21/2019

March 20-- Mar. 20--COOS COUNTY -- The newly formed Roseburg Mental Health Advocacy Council will be visiting Coos County next month as part of its ongoing outreach efforts to connect mental health services to veterans in need.

According to Chairwoman Jessica Lloyd-Rogers, the council, which is sponsored by the Roseburg VA Health Care System, was launched last month to provide veterans a platform to voice their opinions on matters that directly affect them.

With a focus on improving access to services and support for veterans, Lloyd-Rogers said the council hopes to accomplish its goals through its series of outreach, education and advocacy efforts throughout communities around the South Coast.

"At our first meeting we asked everyone what the major issues were that they thought we should tackle," she said. "We ended up with about 16 issues from consistent mental health continuum of care to learning of other non-invasive, alternative health care methods."

In partnership with Coos County Veteran Services, the council will be hosting three free screenings of veteran-directed documentary, "Project 22," in Coos Bay, Myrtle Point and Lakeside. The film shows the struggles veterans with PTSD go through transitioning back to their civilian lives.

A discussion and informational table will be presented at each screening for anyone interested in joining or learning more about the council, said Lloyd-Rogers. Its membership is open to family members of veterans, community agencies, veteran service organizations and other community partners.

While meetings are being held once a month at the Roseburg VA Medical Center, Lloyd-Rogers said its council is working on connecting remote members to its meetings by using a video conference system and expanding sub-chapters to counties serviced by the Roseburg VA Health Care System.

It's also working on creating a website, a directory of services and network of community partners to collaborate and share resources.

"There are a lot of gaps in access, availability and even the treatment of veterans with mental health issues," said Lloyd-Rogers. "We want to be solution oriented and stand up in a collaborative way to come up with those solutions."

The first movie screening will take place at the downtown Coos Bay Public Library on April 25, the second screening at the OSU Extension Service building May 9 in Myrtle Point and the third screening will be held at the Lakeside City Hall on May 23. The film is expected to begin at 5:30 p.m. at each showing.

"In everything we do we want to destigmatize mental health and the stereotype people have of it," said Lloyd-Rogers. "Folks think people with a mental illness are walking the streets in an old Army coat, aren't able to hold a job or are irresponsible and that's a myth. It's like any illness you look for solutions to make it better."

Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-2039 or by email at amanda.linares@theworldlink.com.

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