Covenant Health Partners evaluates mental health opportunities on South Plains Honor Flight

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:52 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As the Texas South Plains Honor Flight evaluates the 2023 flight and prepares for next year, that may include more mental health resources thanks to a collaboration with Covenant Health Partners.

“Part of the reason that I’m here is just to observe the Honor Flight itself, the way it’s run and learn what Covenant Health Partners and the Honor Flight might be able to do together in partnership in the future, whether it’s embedding mental health professionals on the flight or participating in activities, back in Lubbock, to help these guys and forward the cause of the Honor Flight,” Kelly Smith said.

KCBD caught up with Smith, a licensed clinical social worker with CHP, before the Honor Flight returned home. She said an Honor Flight staff member who interns with the CHP Behavioral Health Team asked how mental health professionals could be integrated into the trip, a three-day visit to Washington, D.C. for veterans to visit memorials, monuments and museums dedicated to their service and sacrifice.

“Once these guys knew what my background was, has been, it’s honestly better than what I expected,” Smith said. “I had several come up and just thanked me for what I’m doing, some telling stories and things like that. I think that definitely somebody in this space with these guys, while they’re going through this, is a great idea.”

Smith said that assistance may include efforts at home to help veterans get ready for a flight and also connect them to resources in the community that can help them process what they’ve witnessed, remembered and struggled with.

“I’ve heard a lot of the family members of these guys say ‘he’s never said a word about this. We didn’t talk about this in our family’,” Smith said. “Then I’ve seen others on the other end of the spectrum who have reached out to helpers, whether it’s a friend, a therapist, whether they facilitate a group themselves, and that’s been healing for them.”

Smith said it will take some time to evaluate and determine exactly what resources can be added to the Honor Flight, but she wants the mental health opportunities to provide safety and support for veterans who can be impacted in many aspects of their life if not helped.

“It affects everything they do: relationships, jobs, all of that,” Smith said. “Healing looks different for everybody, so to be able to connect them just to the tiniest little resource and to be able to say ‘thank you’ has been incredible, and I think that work should continue.”

The Texas South Plains Honor Flight is made possible by donations and volunteers. If you’d like to learn more about how you can support it, click here.