The Roundup -

U.S. Senate Candidate Troy Downing Visits V.I.S.I.O.N. in Sidney

 

February 14, 2018 | View PDF

U.S. Senate candidate, Troy Downing (center), discusses the needs of veterans with Shawn Appleburg (left) and B.J. Houchen (right). (Photo submitted by Jordan Hall)

V.I.S.I.O.N. is an organization in Sidney that seeks to help educate and integrate military veterans into civilian society. Standing for "Veteran Integrated Services Innovating Opportunities Nationwide," the organization is a nonprofit designed to engage the rural veteran and their family by providing various services, which include education, medical services and research. Their program is designed to help reduce the risk of suicide among veterans and to help equip them to better live in a non-military environment. They are in partnership with the Rural Institute Veterans Education and Research (RIVER) in Missoula, Montana.

Recently, V.I.S.I.O.N. hosted a roundtable discussion with U.S. Senate candidate, Troy Downing, to discuss the needs of veterans in the local area and how various individuals and groups might partner together for the best interest of area veterans. Downing, who is a veteran of the United States Air Force and served for eight years in a Combat Search and Rescue Squadron as a helicopter pilot, enlisted after September 11, 2011. Prior to his enlistment at the age of 34, Downing had been extremely successful in software engineering and sold his business to the internet company Yahoo. Downing and representatives for V.I.S.I.O.N. discussed the needs of veterans, how they are unique in especially rural areas, and talked about the need for involvement in their program.

"We are accredited as a school, and we provide cyber telecasts to help Veterans," V.I.S.I.O.N. director, B.J. Houchen, told The Roundup. "We give telecasts on different topics on cognitive therapy, sports science, nutrition and so on. We have to get these guys out and go have some fun with them, get them on the right track, and help them with the Veterans Affairs process. A lot of times, the veterans don't understand the paperwork if they're doing it themselves and the VA will just send it back if there's a small discrepancy. We help do that and make the process go faster."

Houchen was born and raised in Sidney, is an Operation Iraqi Freedom war veteran and has been working with this program for about ten months. The program is credited as a school and is funded by the G.I. Bill.

"We have to slow down the river of Veteran Suicides. If we save one person it's worth it," said Houchen.

Downing told the group, "One of things that concerns me so much is that lots of these veterans are depressed because when they were in the military they were at the top of their game, felt a purpose, had a sense of belonging, but when they come out of the service, it's hard."

Downing himself is involved with a fly-fishing outreach, called Warriors in Quiet Waters, which seeks to help Purple Heart Recipients find a therapeutic hobby.

"It doesn't even need to be a professional," said Downing. "It can be recreational so you're not just popping pills and staring at the television. I'm glad there are organizations like this that provide alternatives."

Houchen explained that members of the V.I.S.I.O.N. group provide outreach to veterans, even going so far as driving far out into the country to visit their students who aren't answering the phone because they're going through a hard time.

Downing said, "It's good to have these kinds of networks and to be there when people get dark. People will get dark, and it's good to know there's someone out there to help you."

 

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