Continuum of Care, Inc. provides comprehensive, community based housing and support services, crisis, case management, in-home healthcare, peer mentoring, and outpatient clinical care for adults with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities.The Agency touches the lives of more than 2,400 individuals annually throughout Connecticut.
A Soldier's Story
In 2006, Anthony Moyer joined the United States Army in West Haven. He was shipped out to Missouri, and then to Italy and Germany for a while. It wasn’t until 2010 that he began his 400-day assignment in Afghanistan. This is his story:
“Within ten minutes of our arrival in Afghanistan, I and my fellow soldiers began to hear explosions and sirens. We were all kind of shocked and didn’t really know what to do.”
It was surreal at first. They were under constant bombardment, and every other day they experienced mortar attacks.
Anthony started out as a member of a police transition crew that was training local citizens to be cops for their city. Eventually, he moved into military intelligence, teaching fellow soldiers how to properly collect evidence. He was also in charge of biometrics, collecting fingerprints and iris imprints for over 1,000 people.
“Riots and bombs were bursting out right before the elections in Afghanistan. A suicide bomb exploded during a human intelligence operation and we lost three soldiers.
“Waiting for me at my desk that day was a box that contained the hand of the suicide bomber that I had to collect prints from to determine if he was listed on our ‘Watch List’ for terrorists. Although that was gruesome, more significant PTSD came from various convoy missions.”
Nearly one in four active duty military personnel showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study from The Journal of the American Medical Association. A 2012 congressional report says that one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is diagnosed with PTSD.
When Anthony arrived home after serving in the military, he suspected but wasn’t really sure if he had PTSD. “Most soldiers will put it on the back burner. There is a sense of denial or shame that comes with it, and a stigma.”
After graduating from college, he had a tough time finding work through the Veterans Administration – there were simply no openings. In a roundabout way, he ended up working for Continuum at our Veterans Crisis program.
“It was like it was meant to be.”
While working with those clients – veterans who were trying to overcome their own PTSD – he started seeing himself in some of their cases.
“There were times when I would overmedicate, drink or be particularly agitated. I saw that I was on the same path and that if I didn’t get treatment, I was going to spiral down the same road some of our clients found themselves on.”
Once he went through treatment, he started sleeping. His mood improved. He was more energetic, and able to do things he hadn’t been able to do for a while.
“Although I still tense up a bit in large crowds, I can now do things like go to the grocery store without becoming agitated.
“I still encounter ongoing struggles. There is no magic pill that wipes it completely clean. It’s up to each person to constantly stay on task and follow the advice of doctors and counselors. But it’s very possible.”
Anthony is currently a manager at another Continuum program, and is planning on getting his Master of Social Work. His goal is to stay off of medication and practice more natural activities to destress, like taking up hobbies, going for walks, yoga, reading, and writing. Even cleaning the house helps him to relieve stress. He constantly passes the message along to his clients to “find a hobby that makes you joyful.”
“Continuum is an amazing place for people with mental illness. So many people don’t understand the stigma and shame of being diagnosed with mental illness or alcoholism. Continuum does. I loved being a supervisor at our Veterans program. Being able to talk about the stigma was great, and using the soldiers’ banter was good for me, and good for them. I miss it.
“Continuum is different – unique. We don’t just take people in who are in crisis and then set them free once they are stabilized. We make sure that when someone leaves our program, they are leaving with built-in supports in their recovery plan that includes family, friends, case managers, treatments, and resources. I love working for Continuum. I know I am making a difference in people’s lives, and so are the hundreds of employees who work with me.
“There is still a stigma with PTSD and mental illness. It’s not like cancer. The stigma causes a lot of people to not seek treatment. However, it is so much better to get checked out and get the treatment and support that is needed.”
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 2012 “Suicide Data Report,” about 8,000 veterans are thought to die by suicide each year — about 22 per day and nearly twice that of the general population— due to untreated mental illness.
Anthony says he would like to have more treatments, service dogs, sober houses, and stable living programs for people suffering from PTSD. Continuum is continuously growing, and so is the need to accommodate people like Anthony and others who struggle with a form of mental illness.
Won’t you consider helping us to help someone like Anthony?