In 2012, the Spokane County Veterans Service office reported that nearly 12 percent of the Spokane County population (50,000-60,000) was comprised of veterans. Sadly, after returning from war, many of those who served in the military find themselves in dire circumstances with little support and a lack of government resources. Mark Young, associate professor in Counselor Education, has been working with the veteran population in Spokane for several years, supervising counseling graduate students who have been assigned internships at the Veterans Administration and the Vet Center.
Recently, Dr. Young offered his services to work with the Spokane Veterans Forum, a volunteer group of veterans and Gold Star Mothers who offer guidance and provide mentoring to those men and women coming through the Spokane Veterans Court. In monthly presentations, his objective is to focus on relationships. Dr. Young, who specializes in relationships, has presented on the topics of “Caring for Self” and “Responding with Love.”
“When I speak to the group, my goal is to offer encouragement through sharing information that can help them find love and support in their relationships. There is amazing research and principles on how to achieve happiness in life and in our relationships – and I try to help them see that they deserve to be loved.”
When asked why working with the veteran population is important to him and his students, Dr. Young explains, “Veterans have given of themselves to care for our country and to care for others and I want them to experience care in return.”
He recognizes the importance for veterans to be able to cultivate a strong sense of compassion and respect for oneself. While most of his presentations have focused on the primary support systems of veterans such as their families and friends, Young has also tried to help them see how they can apply the same principles in caring for the self. He says, “My hope is that this will give them options; they can rely on themselves for most of their needs while only relying on others for some of their needs.”
Dr. Young values his work because it allows for connection and under-standing. “It’s one of my highlights because I get to hear amazing stories and insights while getting to know the veterans in a deeper way.”