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Vets’ outreach, recovery program expands across Wisconsin

in Community/News

Sarah Thorsberg goes to work every day with one mission: Assist veterans in need.

Thorsberg, a U.S. Army veteran, not only has a service mentality, but the experiences she gained during her military service help her bond with and gain the trust of veterans who need mental health or substance use services. She works as the Region 5 coordinator of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program.

Photo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

Coordinators like Thorsberg work throughout the state to connect veterans to community services and provide case management and support with a special focus on treatment and recovery. She has an office in Rhinelander, but rarely sees it as she spends her day working directly with veterans throughout her region, which includes Marathon, Lincoln, Price, Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Florence, Langlade and Menominee counties.

“This job is not a 9-to-5 office position,” she said. “We get the opportunity to meet the veterans where they are no matter what their situation is. This job humbles you and truly makes you appreciate what you have in life.”

Through the WDVA’s VORP, veterans can receive crisis services in addition to on-the-street case management in order to get them treatment for mental health and/or substance use care, including paying for private treatment.

Thorsberg also works in collaboration with County Veterans Service Officers, veteran service organizations, local government agencies, community nonprofits and others. Building those relationships opens the door for veterans to also receive individualized wrap-around services, such as housing, food, clothing, furniture, education and employment.

“I enjoy helping veterans experiencing homelessness or other life hurdles and giving them the respect and effort to truly help them get their lives back on track,” Throsberg said.

Thorsberg recently assisted a veteran who was discharged from the Tomah VA Medical Center’s Substance Abuse Program. She helped the veteran find emergency shelter, food, warm clothing, blankets, affordable housing, employment and stabilization. The veteran is currently receiving close case management to regain stability after successfully completing treatment and entering the workforce.

“Without VORP, I would be sleeping in my car,” the Marine veteran said. “I can’t thank the WDVA enough for the assistance in helping me to get out and find a job and a place to live.”

The WDVA’s Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program started out as a pilot program in 49 counties in 2014 and recently expanded to all 72 counties in Wisconsin. Since the program’s inception, coordinators have helped about 500 veterans obtain mental health services, substance and alcohol treatment and other supportive services.

If you know of a veteran in need, contact Thorsberg at 715-401-4821.

This story was published with permission from Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

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