The first Interagency Meeting of 2018 was primarily about veterans; the monetary advantages for Nevada employers who hire veterans and information on becoming a Certified Veterans Advocate with a free online course.

Both subjects were covered by speaker Matt Taylor, community outreach director for the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.

Mesquite Interagency Meetings is the brain child of Mesquite Behavioral Health’s Psychiatric Caseworker Kimberly Gilbert.

Gilbert had a lot of resource information, on a variety of subjects, for the public but needed an outlet to network with others, especially business members, to find all the resources possible to help others in her community.

For the past year, Mesquite businesses have sent representatives who meet on the first Wednesday of the month to gather information and resources then pass the information they received on to employees and clients/customers; the first year of the program was a rousing success.

The information presented at the first meeting of the New Year dealt primarily with veteran affairs but the information was valuable to everyone.

The first subject dealt with the many benefits of becoming a “Patriot Employer” and why hiring veterans is a smart business move, not just for the tax benefits business owners receive but because of the caliber of employee hired.

“The Patriot Employer Program provides your business with education and support to help fill your team with employees who have already proven to be successful,” Taylor said.

The program will show you where to find and retain veteran employees, tax credits available to employers who hire veterans and other benefits to hiring the men and women who have served our country.

You don’t have to employ a veteran to be helpful to them. Taylor also presented information on becoming a Nevada Veteran’s Advocate at no cost to you.

What is a Veteran’s Advocate? They are people like you who want to give back to those who have given so much to defend our freedom. An Advocate can be anyone willing to take the time to learn how to help veterans and their families.

Advocates help educated military members whether active, inactive or reserve and their families about the many opportunities they may be eligible for.

Many veterans are unaware of the “Sea of Goodwill” or the support offered by local non-profit, state and federal agencies.

The Veteran’s Advocate Course consists of 20 modules answering the most critical and common questions asked by veterans seeking assistance. Upon completion of the course, the participants can request certification.

Once certified, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion, a State of Nevada Veterans Resource Director and a Nevada Veterans Advocate shirt. You don’t have to take the course for certification. Veterans can also benefit by taking the course just to learn, for themselves, about the many services available to them.

Also discussed at the meeting is the upcoming Family to Family course. This is a series of 12 classes structured to help caregivers, family members and friends understand and support individuals with serious mental illness while maintaining their own well-being.

The course is taught by a team of trained NAMI family member volunteers who know what it’s like to have a loved one struggling with one of these brain disorders.  There is no cost to participate in the NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program.  Anyone interested in attending needs to call Gilbert, so she can ensure there are enough materials.

The next Family-to-Family course begins Jan. 18 and will be held on Thursday evenings from 6:30-9 p.m.

The February Interagency Meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 11 a.m. Scheduled speakers are Gina Byrge with the Department of Health and Human Services to answer questions on Nevada Medicaid and Kara Barcomb, Disaster Program Manager, with the American Red Cross.

For more information on the Veteran Programs mentioned, the many resources available through Mesquite Behavioral Health Center or more information on the Interagency or Family-to-Family Meetings, contact Kimberly Gilbert, Psychiatric Caseworker, Mesquite Behavioral Health Center at 702-346-4696.