PRRC Helps Veterans Reintegrate into the Community - Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
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Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System

 

PRRC Helps Veterans Reintegrate into the Community

Two men pose for a photo at an outdoor picnic

Odell Smith (left), Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, serves lunch to Army Veteran Stephen Jeffers.

By Nathan Schaeffer, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

During May 19-22, an estimated 400,000 people will attend Mayfest in downtown Tulsa. The annual event has a little bit of everything from live music, food, fine arts, crafts and hands-on activities for kids.

While the event will likely be enjoyable for most, some Veterans with severe mental illnesses will prefer to avoid Mayfest due to the large crowds. For the second consecutive year, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) Psycho-Social Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) has held a Mayfest themed picnic for Veterans at Mohawk Park in Tulsa.

Along with food, the event included live music courtesy of The Sam Band, a group of musicians who live in Wagoner, Okla., and games such as mini-basketball, horseshoes and tug-of-war.

A man tosses a horseshoe at an outdoor picnic

Navy Veteran James Barnett plays horseshoes during the Mayfest event at Mohawk Park.

“We want our Veterans to participate in community activities, but the large Mayfest crowds can be a little intimidating,” said Odell Smith, a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist with the PRRC Program. “Our picnic is a spin-off of Mayfest, but on a smaller scale.”

PRRC is an outpatient treatment program, held Monday through Friday each week, for Veterans who suffer from severe and persistent mental illness. The program’s mission is to help Veterans reclaim their lives, instill hope, validate strengths, teach life skills, and facilitate community integration in meaningful, self-determined roles.

Navy Veteran Connie Carter, who has been in the PRRC Program for three months, said she tends to isolate herself and the picnic was a welcome opportunity to get out and spend time with others.

“Today is a great day because we’re at Mohawk Park and we’re with a lot of friends,” said Carter. “Everybody seems to be having a good time. We have live music, it’s great.”

A band plays music at an outdoor picnic

The Sam Band provided entertainment for Veterans.

Navy Veteran James Barnett said he enjoyed the beautiful weather at the park and, like Carter, he also enjoyed the opportunity to socialize with others.

“I tend to isolate,” said Barnett. “I have to push myself to do this. Maybe it’s more natural for some people. For me, it’s not.”

Barnett has been in the PRRC Program for a year and said he has recommended the program to other Veterans who suffer from mental illnesses, especially those who prefer to isolate themselves.

“PRRC is a really good thing,” said Barnett. “Having somewhere to go every day and to be around other people is very good for me. They also help to get you out (in the community). They take you to places and get you a little bit more comfortable and then you’re a little more likely to do it on your own. It is kind of like when you go to the pool and dip your toe in the water. You have to see how the water feels first.”

To learn more about the PRRC Program, Veterans can call 918-610-2027.

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