Veteran walking cross country makes stop in Casper

(Casper, Wyo.) Central Wyoming Counseling Center is welcoming Navy veteran and VetZero founder Tommy Zurhellen to Casper Sunday, June 9 during his walk across the country in support of veteran suicide and homelessness.

Zurhellen, a Marist College English professor, began his 3,000-mile solo journey April 15 in Portland, Oregon, and has walked across Idaho and is now in Wyoming. He’ll continue though Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan and will end his journey in New York in late August. His goal is to walk an average of 22 miles everyday to honor the 22 veterans who take their own lives every day. Zurhellen doesn’t have a tent, and he only sleeps indoors when he can find someone to take him in, which replicates the experience of an estimated 40,387 homeless veterans in America. This is also the dollar amount he’s hoping to raise at https://www.gofundme.com/vetzero.

In Wyoming, veteran and civilian suicide is a huge concern among mental health organizations like Central Wyoming Counseling Center (CWCC), especially with one of the nation’s highest suicide rates.

“It can be very difficult for veterans to open up and talk about their experiences. When they’re facing depression and other behavioral health concerns alone, it can tragically lead to suicide. We need to get our returning heroes the treatment they need. Tommy’s journey and visit to Casper is a great way to get that conversation going and show other veterans they have a community behind them ready to help,” CWCC CEO Kevin Hazucha said.

Zurhellen’s journey has taken him through rain, snow, hunger, pain and the mental grind of walking 8 hours everyday for the last several weeks. He arrived in Wyoming May 27, and is scheduled to reach Casper Saturday, June 8, weather permitting.

“It’s not surprising that Wyoming’s suicide rates are so high, because it’s easy to feel lonely out here,” Zurhellen said as he was walking outside of Rawlins. “Veterans need to talk to other veterans, but a lot of times they don’t want to talk. When you live in a rural area like Wyoming, it’s even harder to connect to those circles. But I have been amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people here, so there’s a lot of hope,” he said.

To learn more about Zurhellen and his mission, visit https://veteranzero.org, and get updates on his journey at https://www.facebook.com/veteranzero. Zurhellen is available to the media via phone when services permits and can be contacted anytime through his Facebook page.

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  • Mental Health Awareness Month Gallery Reception

    12:51
    05/14/2018

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Central Wyoming Counseling Center (CWCC) is celebrating by hosting an art gallery in its lobby May 14 to May 18 featuring pieces created by CWCC clients and staff.
    Mental Health Awareness Month emphasizes that health is holistic; we’re treated by a medical doctor when we have physical ailments, so naturally we need to treat mental illnesses the same way. This initiative also aims to combat the negative stigmas surrounding mental health, and CWCC is highlighting the positives with this first-ever art gallery.
    “This is going to showcase the incredible things that our clients and staff are capable of. It’s really unfortunate that people with mental illnesses often deal with negative stigma, but we’re showing people that our clients have hobbies and interests and talents, just like everyone else,” CWCC Director of Recovery Services Tabatha Madrigal said.
    Any piece of artwork created by CWCC staff or clients is eligible for submission, while residential clients are making submissions specially for this event. Madrigal explained that mental health patients often face a duality in how clients see their own illness versus how the rest of the world perceives it. In response, each client created two-sided masks with one side each representing both of these experiences. These masks will be hung from the ceiling so each side is visible.
    To honor the work and recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, CWCC is hosting a free reception Monday, May 14 beginning at 5:00 p.m. Food and beverages will be served, and the gallery will be open to the public for viewings. In addition to the reception, the lobby will be open for the community to browse the pieces through May 18 during regular business hours. 
    To learn more about the reception or Mental Health Awareness Month, contact Danielle Krucheck at dkrucheck@cwcc.us or call 207.237.9583.
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