Vincent Calloway had never ridden on a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) train. In fact, Calloway, a U.S. Army Veteran, hadn’t used any public transportation in many years due to his post traumatic stress.

Through an innovative VA North Texas recreation therapy program, dubbed ‘DART Around’, Veterans like Calloway who are recovering from mental health illness are escorted by a social worker and a recreational therapist to a variety of high-volume public transportation locales and stops around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Throughout the weekly outings, the social worker and recreation therapist work with the Veterans, explaining how to use the public transportation system, key ways to be mindful of their surroundings, and how to interact with the environment around them.

US Navy Veteran Jon Hicks studies a map of downtown Dallas as he and a eleven other Veterans participate in VA North Texas’ ‘DART Around’ recreational therapy program. The ‘DART Around’ therapy program is designed to aid Veterans with serious mental health illness in developing self-confidence and skills needed to function in social settings. Under supervision, the group of a dozen Veterans ventures out each week on the DART to different locations and build social skills with the help of their fellow Veterans.

“This is intended to be a shouldering-event for our Veterans,” said Kim Canova-Romans, VA North Texas recreational therapist. “It’s like breaking down scaffolding–one layer at a time we help them tear down the barriers that keep them isolated and alone.”

The ‘DART Around’ program was developed in 2007 by VA North Texas social worker, Donna McCollum. She found that, due to mental illness, some Veterans could not operate a motor vehicle and were unable to navigate a public transportation system. These Veterans were left with few options, fewer friends, and were on a fast track to depression and isolation.

“Often with severe mental illness. our Veterans find it difficult to interact and move through society, sometimes to the point all they know are the four walls they live in,” said McCollum. “This program helps them build confidence in themselves and the skills they need to escape those four walls.”

The Veterans in the program are encouraged to make connections and interact with fellow Veterans on the outings, share what they’ve learned, how they coped, and enjoy the successes they’ve achieved as part of the program.

“I’m so grateful for this program,” said Calloway. “Sometimes all it takes is another Veteran to help take away the fear and anxiety that goes with learning how to cope.”

Michael Cole is a public affairs specialist with VA North Texas Health Care System.

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Published on Jul. 15, 2019

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One Comment

  1. David Brandon Lara July 20, 2019 at 2:04 am

    I sued in military,base collected lawsuit money.again military pay was suposed to pay me out of it civilian pay only problem is they all forgot name is david brandon lara private being paid e5 pay for reception station work no boot camp just sue and play gov pentegon runs base for time being.i was in six months i qualify for benefits after six months in.i qualify for veterans benefits now case pending.injury prior to enlistment.left knee can you tell me how to get my money from lawsuits on ft.benning base in georgia and how do i get paid military pay that collected never set up civilian pay card make payment plans for collected series of government lawsuits as ex employee who had investments in pentegon finances with other gov.and whole buisinesses with ours as well as our gov.records disc packs comming in money on discs to pentegon for me collecting mass amounts of finances pay to the order of checks to signed. And invested to in gov business such as infintry disc bag etc.and inherritance paying bills only for whos running gov disc infintry so on and so infintry was paid whole time who was the discs loaded emptied into gov finance to fund business i turnned over to fallon base the disc bag along with loaded infintry disc bag from germany infintry disc bag was mine too turnned in with money loaded to fund infintry disc bag for base fallon air force base infintry 11bravo morterman indirect fire infintry.several records will see i covered the whole infintry job and disc bags to pay the bills infintry And all its wereabouts it was being billed from as well as green opps to get moneys from it for it.

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