OCEANSIDE — Courage to Call is a military assistance program that matches up active duty military, recent veterans and their families with the best fitting support services.
Mental Health Systems’ Courage to Call program partners with Veterans Village of San Diego, Mental Health America, 2-1-1 San Diego and California Veterans Legal Task Force to review the authenticity and eligibility requirements of support services and pass this information on to military service members and their families.
Outreach efforts to introduce military personnel to Courage to Call are held at Camp Pendleton, the Veterans Association of North County and local events.
“There are so many organizations doing great work, and they (active duty military, recent veterans and their families) don’t know about those services,” Barbara Padilla, program manager, said.
“A lot of times they’re not aware of programs, or connecting with the wrong programs.”
Courage to Call is the boots on the ground that meets with military men and women to connect them with services. The program operates out of the Libby Lake Community Center on North River Road.
“We’re a 24/7 information referral service for active duty, their families and veterans,” Padilla said.
“Our main purpose is to be an information hub for San Diego County.”
At the Libby Lake Community Center, on-site confidential peer counseling is offered. This allows military men and women to talk to counselors who have served in the military, and who understand what they are going through, from treatment at the VA Medical Center to explaining a spouse’s deployment to their children.
“They can say I’ve been there, and it’s not that bad,” Padilla said. “Its building relationships.”
Future plans are to expand the program to a case management model that routinely follows up on the progress of clients.
Courage to Call has operated out of the Libby Lake Community Center for four years, and will continue serving military service members pending the award of county grant funds that support program operations.
Padilla said the organization expects to be notified of grant approval in September, which is one month shy of the end of the program’s lease at the community center. Oceanside City Council postponed renewing the lease agreement with the nonprofit to allow the organization to secure funds.
Mental Health Systems is a nonprofit that has been serving California residents since 1978.
The Courage to Call program began in San Diego in 2009 and started in Oceanside in 2010.