By Grace Kuikman
For Beverly/Morgan Park resident Modie Lavin, working with the Road Home Program: The Center for Veterans and Their Families is a calling, not a career. The program, which opened in March 2014 at Rush University Medical Center, helps veterans recently deployed from active duty resume life with their families, friends and neighbors back home. That’s not always easy.
Whether or not the men and women in our armed services have been in combat, a tour of duty in the military is often filled with stress and difficulty. Because of what these veterans have experienced, they frequently come home changed — some of them profoundly – by what Lavin, who joined the Road Home Program as a Community Outreach Coordinator in March 2015, calls “the invisible wounds of war.”
For the veterans, those “invisible wounds” range from depression and anxiety to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and other combat- or service-related issues for which the Road Home Program offers a variety of counseling, rehabilitation and outpatient services. The program also provides services for the families of veterans that help partners, spouses, parents and children better understand what the veterans are going through, provide support to the veteran, and cope with family challenges.
Lavin, whose son, Marie Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, died during combat operations in Afghanistan in March 2012, feels especially committed to reaching military families with the help they need and deserve.
“So often we forget about the family members,” Lavin said, recalling her own loss, grief and ongoing recovery, “Families are not only affected by a death, but by the enlistment and the changes that take place in the household. The family’s dynamics change, their worries change.”
When Lavin accepted her job with the Road Home Program, she viewed it as a way to fill a void in her life as well as a way to help others whose struggles she so deeply understands. “It was part of my journey and mission to overcome the tremendous loss of Cpl. Conner T. Lowry. I do this work in honor of him, and to help his brothers and sisters who are returning home from their service in the military.”
As a Community Outreach Coordinator, Lavin works with area families providing education and awareness about the “invisible wounds of war” and the services available at the Road Home Program. She meets with individuals, makes presentations at meetings and schools to help people better understand and identify the unique issues facing veterans, hosts events designed to enlighten and educate, and works hard to make sure that the many veterans in our community and beyond know that high quality help is available.
“For families that might need me, I’m here to help,” she said.
Lavin also puts a focus on local veterans through events. The Road Home is presenting sponsor of this year’s Beverly/Morgan Park/Mount Greenwood Memorial Day Parade on May 29. Lavin is also working with the Chicago Park District, Warrior Summit Coalition, City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea to organize the Veterans Softball Tournament and Family Fest on Sat., July 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Beverly Park, 2460 W. 102nd St. Info is available at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/progams/veterans.
Road Home Program services are confidential, accessible, and available regardless of the ability to pay, and supported by the high level of health care available at Rush. They also fill in the gaps that Veterans Administration services are unable to cover.
“The Road Home Program offers access to therapy, counseling, resources, and world renowned doctors,” Lavin said. “It’s an amazing place for veterans because it treats the ‘whole’ veteran, including the family.”
Most of the program’s services are open to the greater Chicago region. The Intensive Outpatient Program is a three-week, full spectrum treatment program open to veterans and families across the Midwest, providing comprehensive, individualized care for trauma-based disorders and injuries.
Life-long Beverly/Morgan Park resident, Lavin finds meaning and healing is her work with area veterans and their families. Her message: “I understand what you’re going through.” Her mission: “Call on me, I can help.”
Get in touch with Lavin at 773-590-8244 or Modwene_lavin@rush.edu.
Road Home Program Veterans Softball Tournament
The Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center invites area Veterans and their families to the Veterans Softball Tournament and Family Fest, Sat., July 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Beverly Park, 2460 W. 102nd St.
Team registration continues until July 1. Standard ASA rules apply. Teams need a minimum of 8 and maximum of 10 players, men and women, and 70% of the team must be veterans, active duty military or direct family of either. Individuals without a team can register under “open team.” Registration information is available from Joel Gutierrez, 312-745-2170, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/progams/veterans.
The tournament and fest features free food, games, bouncy house, face painter and DJ for families who come to the park to cheer on the teams. Hosting the event are the Chicago Park District, Warrior Summit Coalition, City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations and Advisory Council on Veterans Affairs and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea.