MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS)-- Veterans across the state of Wisconsin will soon have a new place to seek assistance.
With approximately 44,000 veterans in Milwaukee County alone, it's no surprise there is a need for service member programs in the state.
"I was where you are. Now I can help you to get where I am," Director of Prevention Services for Mental Health America of Wisconsin, Brian Michel said.
Michel says the goal of a brand new peer-run veteran respite program is to allow veterans to work with other veterans to help solve issues or concerns. It also happens to be the first in the state just for vets.
"This is the first one that the state proposed to fund that would serve exclusively veteran population," Michel said.
Michel says this new program will work directly with veterans who are dealing with substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral health issues.
"It's an opportunity for a veteran to connect with a peer who not only has gone through experiences similar to they have but has also been trained in how to use their own path to recovery to support others on their path to recovery," Michel said.
The program will allow veterans to create a sense of culture and it will also allow them to relate to others who have shared experiences.
"It really runs the gambit from any veteran can access it," Michel said.
For Air Force Veteran, David Hansen, being able to share his experiences with others has been a blessing.
"I was one of the first ones of like my big group of friends that got out so a lot of them have reached out to me when they separated or if they are thinking about getting out I have told them things I have gone through and things they can expect to go through," Resource Specialist at UW-Milwaukee Maverick, David Hansen said.
Michel says they are looking for a location for the program’s house. However, the house will allow up to six vets to stay for a one to five day period depending on their needs.
"I think the need is very great. We have been seeing the high suicide rate among veterans," Michel said.
Michael says in Wisconsin, veterans account for 20 percent of suicides in the state. Meanwhile, Hansen says it's important to speak up and seek help.
"I think it's important because if you keep that stuff in it can eat away at you. So, just finding one person you can talk to about anything freely is good," Hansen said.
Organizers say the plan is to have the center open by June for veterans across the state.