ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) Studies have shown around 20 veterans are lost each day to suicide in the US. It’s been an ongoing challenge for years. To help combat that problem locally, the Veterans Outreach Center in downtown Rochester has brought in Roderick Castle, the new director of behavioral health to lead the way in suicide prevention and awareness.
The VOC is hoping Castle, also a former Marine, can help give that intimate veteran to veteran mental health care they say can help knock down barriers to treatment.
“It takes a little bit to adjust back to civilian life and a lot of them aren’t able to do that as quickly as they need to,” says Castle.
Castle says when it comes to a veteran leaving service and getting back out into the world, the struggle can often times be double what an average person might face.
“So these vets need something like the VOC to re-frame their skills,” he says.
Castle says the therapy there starts with the basics: ensuring a veteran has access to food, clothing, shelter. That’s when a deeper dive into emotional stability begins and Castle’s mission of trying to get to the core of things like substance abuse or suicidal behavior.
“Our society as a whole has increased mental health issues. That’s all ‘times two’ for veterans,” he says.
And it’s no easy task. Castle says the mindset of a veteran after service and all the experiences, from boot camp to combat, to demanding work schedules, to military sexual trauma, can leave a person a shell of what they used to be.
“The trauma that happens to people in the military is very unique,” says Executive Director Laura Stradley.
She says Castle’s service and experiences can help a veteran immediately relate, and bring down hurdles that stand in the way of sound mental health. “Roderick brings the perfect blend of military and therapeutic experience,” says Stradley.
Both say that’s what makes the VOC stand out from places like the VA.
In an earlier press release from the VOC Stradley said, “According to the Department of Veteran Affairs 2019 annual report on veteran suicide, more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide each year from 2008 to 2017, and veterans are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than nonveterans. This is an epidemic we cannot stand for, and we believe that having Roderick on our team will be of great benefit to all veterans.”
Castle says what you’ll find at the VOC is unconditional positive regard. “We accept you, there’s no judgement. We’re just here to do whatever we can,” he says.
The Veterans Outreach Center is open and seeing veterans at 447 South Avenue in the city. You can also telephone them at 585-546-1081, or visit their webpage here.
Roderick Castle is a NY licensed Creative Arts Therapist with the American Art Therapy Board Credentials Board, and he is certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and Mental Health First Aid. Castle is also a member of the Rochester Threat Advisement Committee (ROCTAC) and is working toward certification with the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals.