El Paso, TX (KTSM) – An Air Force Veteran enrolled in the El Paso VA Health Care System’s Mental Health Intensive Case Management (MHICM) program reached a long-time goal last month and credits VA staff with supporting her every step of the way.
Janet Arellano, age 37, has a history of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bi-polar depression and has been receiving VA care for these conditions since she was honorably discharged 18 years ago.
The El Paso VA’s Mental Health Intensive Care Management (MHICM) program is for veterans with a diagnosis of severe and persistent mental illness.
Arellano, a female veteran who was born in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico was proud to serve in the United States military before being honorably discharged in 2003.
Jonathan Evans, Doctor of Nursing practice (DNP) at the El Paso VA Health Care Center, has worked with Arrellano for the past three years as part of her MHICM integrated, interdisciplinary team. In that role, he serves as a fixed point of clinical responsibility with a focus on community orientation, integration with medical and mental health services, rehabilitation, transition to self-care, independent living, and competitive employment.
“The fact that she passed her test is an outstanding, and inspirational accomplishment given some of her past struggles,” said Evans. “When our patients succeed, VA succeeds. The MHICM team is thrilled for Ms. Arellano.”
Due to medical concerns, Arellano is unable to hold a steady job and does not currently operate a vehicle. She did however have a dream of one day becoming an U.S. citizen and expressed that desire to her VA care team in late 2018 as part of her treatment goals.
Ann McGill, RN and Peer Support Specialist Albert Murgia both staff members of the MHICM staff jumped into action and helped Arellano register for a 2019 citizenship class at a local public library, downloaded the study material, printed it, and delivered it to her home then followed up with calls of encouragement and motivation.
Arellano’s plan to take the citizenship exam in 2020 was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Like many people worldwide, Arellano struggled with feelings of anxiety and isolation during the pandemic but her MHICM team ensured that she knew VA care continued and that her goals were also their goals. And just last month, Arellano was happy to report that she passed her citizenship exam and was finally able to call herself a U.S. citizen!
“They didn’t give up on me, they told me to study hard and be the best version of myself I could be. Because of them I want to encourage others to get treatment if they need it” said Arellano. “Seeking help is much better than suffering alone, plus you never know if you can get better if you don’t give the doctors and medication a chance to work,” she said.
Over one dozen veterans are enrolled with the El Paso VA Health Care System’s Mental Health Intensive Case Management (MHICM) program. For more information on MHICM please call Ann McGill at (915) 330-8183 Monday through Friday from 0800-1630.