Veterans Community Project works to keep veterans, pets together for mental health – KSHB 41 Kansas City News


KANSAS CITY, Mo.   —  Experts Community Project is a nonprofit based out of Kansas City that supports veterans by providing housing and wrap-around, walk-in support services.

It was founded by community members who wanted to make sure no veterans, who took the oath to serve America, were left behind.

Brandon Mixon, the chief project officer and co-founder of the group, knows first-hand how important the services it offers can be.

“After kind of coming home and really battling depression and suicide and a lot of that stuff, I had a real hard time integrating back in society, ” Mixon said. “To me I felt like, I hate to say it, the military left me behind. I got left behind, and next thing I know I found myself here in Kansas City not knowing what’s next. ”

Mixon is a medically retired Army veteran. He served four-and-a-half-years in Afghanistan until he suffered a traumatic brain and shoulder injury in 2013.

Coming back to civilian life was difficult for many reasons, but Mixon says feeling left behind by his military family developed depression, PTSD and thoughts of suicide.

“Mental health crisis are so big amongst us, ” he said.

It was Scanlon, his certified service dog that eventually pulled him out of the darkness. Mixon says it was Scanlon’s “unconditional love” that stuck with him. Scanlon became not only a service dog, but a best friend to him.

“I was scared to get attached to anything or anyone, even my own family in a lot of cases. And Scanlon taught me to really feel vulnerable again, ” Mixon said. “If I have any nightmare episodes or anything else like that, he’s actually trained to pull off the covers, turn on the lights and start licking me to wake me up. ”

Karli Daigle, the director of veteran support services, say 70 to 80% of their clients struggle with mental health illnesses like depression and PTSD.

But many of them have been able to turn the corner with the healing powers of support animals, so the staff at the tiny village intentionally allots additional resources to pet care.

Veterans Community Project offers free veterinary care, grooming solutions and a dog park to its on-site clients.

“We really make sure that is taken care of so that the veteran can take care of themselves for once, ” Daigle said.

VCP works closely with Veterans Affairs and also partners with local community health resources like Battle Within to address root psychological health causes.

The nonprofit often works with local churches and takes other non-traditional avenues to make sure each veteran’s needs are met.

To learn more about its mission and how you can help, head to the non-profit’s website .

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