DETROIT — Nestled at the edge of a shopping plaza on the outskirts of Downtown Detroit sits an unsuspecting building, a refuge for veterans seeking mental health services. I walked up to its double doors, the main lobby hidden behind a wall of blinds covering the windows, and rang the doorbell.
I was quickly greeted by a wave of auburn colored hair sitting behind a heartwarming smile. Former Army Specialist Courtney Reid is one of the most compassionate people you'll ever meet, and she would've given me a hug if it wasn’t for the coronavirus.
In keeping with family tradition, Courtney, along-side her sister, joined the United States Army Reserve in 2011. “My whole dad’s side of the family has been in one branch or another,” she said. Her grandfather served in the Army and fought in the Korean War and her father served in the Army from the late 70’s to the early 80’s. “There was always pride in serving,” she added.
She served for six years as a 38B, Civil Affairs Specialist, working as a liaison between civilians and the military and aimed to "win hearts and minds."
Talking about her time in the Army, Courtney expressed that we should all be striving to better serve one another. “It's more like a service for others, that's always been important to me ... serving for the greater good of other people,” she explained, “I did a small piece of what we should all do for each other.”
Courtney went on to tell me that her time in the service proved to be very impactful for her on several levels, but above all, it helped her find her passion in life — “helping Veterans.”
“I got in [to the Army] and saw a need in the military for mental health,” Courtney said. “We all had a security clearance so people were under the impression that they couldn’t seek out mental health [services] without possibly losing their clearance, so a lot of people didn’t,” she explained, “there’s a lot of misinformation about your access to mental health services and what that does to your career in the military.”
“I just saw Soldiers really struggle and not get the help they needed because they were afraid to do that,” she stressed, “and I wanted to be a part of the solution.”
“I was always interested in psychology,” Courtney admitted. She already had a bachelor's degree in psychology before enlisting and during her time in the Army Reserve she completed a master's degree in social work. In 2015, Courtney started working as a therapist serving veterans.
Courtney understands that a lot of people have reservations about seeing a therapist but she explained to me that “everybody needs therapy at some point in their life” and she wants service members to know that, “it's OK, everybody has things they struggle with ... a lot of people suffer in silence and it doesn't have to be that way.”
“It's about getting a different perspective, learning new skills, things you might not think of or know of," Courtney advised, “I think it's always a positive thing. It doesn't have to be this end-of-the-rope type resource, you can use it way before that.”
Courtney went on to convey to me that she is grateful for everything she gained from the Army and that even though she did not serve on active duty, or deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, she found a way to serve the military and the country, everyday, in the way she knows best.
“My way of continuing to serve the country is serving veterans, in this aspect. It's my way of continuing to give back ... by being here for veterans,” she concluded.
There were three things that really stood out in talking with Courtney. Three things that Soldiers and veterans alike should never overlook; there is always pride in serving your country, there is always pride in helping others, and there should always be pride in taking care of yourself.
You might not ever get the chance to meet Courtney, but there are other compassionate Veterans just like her, sitting in similar unsuspecting buildings, waiting for other veterans to ask them for a helping hand.
On this Veteran’s Day, Courtney, a proud United States Army Reserve veteran, a living portrait of selfless-service, leaves us all with this final and important assertion: “There's a lot of resources out there ... just don't stop looking.”