Christopher Shea Wilkes, social worker with the Department of Veteran Affairs, spoke to the Minden Lions Club at their weekly luncheon Thursday.
Wilkes reminisced about his time working with the Lions Club in his home town. “I think one of the things that separate the US from other countries is the service clubs that get involved in the community,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to help veterans,” Wilkes said on his decision to focus on social work and counseling with the VA. In his time with the Army reserves, he found that there wasn’t the amount of focus on mental healthcare as there should have been, pushing him towards fulfilling his goal of aiding those who have served.
Wilkes explained the various departments of the VA, such as the Veterans Benefits Administration, the Veterans Health Administration and the National Cemetery Association.
He spoke on the services that Veteran’s centers can provide, such as treating combat veterans and family and providing grieving counseling.
Wilkes spoke on the strides the VA has made in treating PTSD. “There is lot that we can do to treat PTSD that we didn’t have in the past,” Wilkes said, speaking on the non-traditional means of counseling such as community activities.
He recounted speaking to Vietnam veterans on the horrors of war and how it’s affected them, explaining that beneath the rough exterior, veterans are some of the most caring individuals.
For more information on the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center where Wilkes serves, visit shreveport.va.gov.