Michiana man launching peer support group for area veterans, first responders

NOW: Michiana man launching peer support group for area veterans, first responders

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- A Michiana man is hoping to help veterans and first responders in the area. 

Scott Leeper, a certified life and health coach from Mishawaka, is launching a peer mentoring group for those who serve or have served the community. 

“To help veterans start taking accountability for their life and provide support for them,” said Leeper. 

Studies show veterans and first responders are at an increased risk for developing behavioral health, substance abuse, financial, and domestic violence problems among other issues due to the trauma they experience in their line of work. 

“A lot of these guys feel like they’re on their own,” said Leeper.

Leeper adds in his experience, veterans and first responders tend to keep things to themselves. He hopes by bringing together people with similar experiences, they’ll be able to open up and work on themselves. 

At each meeting, Leeper says they’ll discuss those problems then create action plans that outline steps they can take to overcome those challenges. 

“It will discuss those challenges, start to shift the perspective around those challenges, so they can start to see those challenges are actually blessings versus curses, and then start to develop action steps to start getting past those challenges so they can start leading the life that they actually want to,” said Leeper. 

The group will meet the first Monday of each month at VFW Post 360 in Mishawaka at 7:30 p.m. 

Leeper will lead each session and says it is free to veterans regardless of their branch, time served, or discharge. It’s also open to first responders. 

“If we don’t have someone in our corner, holding us accountable, we always go back to what we know,” said Leeper. “You almost really can’t put a value on what sort of benefits this group would really bring to them.” 

Leeper knows how important it is to have someone in their corner when overcoming obstacles. His support system allowed him to comeback from a downward spiral he went through after his dad’s death that led to him being kicked out of the Marines. 

“You’ve got to talk about the challenges that you’re currently dealing with,” said Leeper. “I’ve been there where I didn’t talk about and I paid the price for it. After you’ve talked about it so much, if someone triggers you, it’s just a little hiss, so there’s nothing at all because you’ve been getting it out.” 

The first meeting is Monday January 6th. Leeper says people do not have to sign up ahead of time. He is also looking for professionals who specialize in the topics the group will be discussing. Those interested can email him at [email protected].

Share this article: