Peer-to-Peer Support from Trained Volunteer Veterans

Behind the Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program is a simple concept: Military Service is unlike any other human experience. No one knows more about the issues facing a service member – in combat or on the home front – than a fellow service member.

Volunteer Veterans are recruited to the Program from a variety of veteran service organizations and the community. They receive training in communication skills and available community resources to help them assist other service members in managing the many challenges that may arise throughout the deployment cycle.

The Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program was developed at the University of Michigan in partnership with the Michigan Army National Guard; faculty from the Veterans Administration Health System and Michigan State University; and veteran advocates to address the unique challenges facing Citizen Soldiers. These soldiers often deploy multiple times and are isolated from those with whom they served once they return to their home communities.

The Mission of the Program is to use trained Volunteer Veterans to help military service members overcome the stigma around asking for help and link those who are facing challenges throughout the deployment cycle with appropriate resources that will optimize their quality of life.

Volunteer Veterans are trained to help veterans and service members address issues ranging from accessing financial, employment, legal, benefit, or educational resources to identifying mental health providers for emotional, substance abuse, or relationship concerns.

West Virginia’s Citizen Soldiers are facing the same challenging circumstances upon returning home from deployment. The Buddy-to-Buddy West Virginia Volunteer Veteran Program has been implemented to assist our service members in need throughout the state. This has been made possible through a close partnership with Prestera and the West Virginia National Guard, and the mentorship of the Michigan Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program.