How one veteran went from sleeping in his car to crushing in business

Matt Saintsing
June 06, 2018 - 2:31 pm

Photo Courtesy of Vardly St. Preux

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When Vardly St. Preux left the U.S. Army after more than 15 years in service, he felt completely lost. His life went through a “spiraling” situation in 2015 when his mother suddenly passed away during his last deployment to Afghanistan. And after a series of downturns, including a toxic relationship with a woman who turned violent, St. Preux found himself unemployed and sleeping in one of the many parking garages in Silver Spring, Md.

Today, however, he enjoys living in a stable apartment complex and runs not one, but two IT and security companies. For that, St. Preux says he has the EasterSeals and The Cohen Veterans Network to thank.

“It felt like someone was really caring for me,” says St. Preux. “For me, it all came down to getting the right help at the right time.”

That help included reviewing his financial situation, to cognitive behavioral therapy at a clinic in Silver Spring, and securing safe housing.

When Vardly came to the clinic, he was their first client and completed 12 sessions. 

Photo Courtesy of Vardly St. Preux

“It felt like the resources were endless and just for me,” he says.

And one key resource that too many veterans need is mental health.

“I think Vardly is a perfect example of a great success story for what we do here,” says Dr. Tracy Neal-Walden, the director and senior vice president at the Steven A. Cohen military family clinic at Easterseals in Silver Spring. She's also a retired Air Force Colonel and clinical psychologist.

“He’s a great example of how he was able to come in, and get the care he needs.”

That clinic has seen 212 clients totaling over 2,000 sessions, since it first opened last fall. To date, 76 clients have completed therapy, says Neal-Walden.

When he was first approached by Easterseals, he was beginning to get back on his feet, but needed some help in areas other than mental health, like employment prospects. The “wraparound” services provided to him through the clinic tackled those areas too. They weren't just a life-changer, they were a lifesaver.

And his success isn't just a one off, it can be recreated in other veterans as the clinic employs evidence-based treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy. 

“With the therapy that we do, we’re teaching individuals to work through their symptoms,” says Neal-Walden. “Were teaching them some new skills, so they can be successful long term.”

Those new skills translated to a fulfilling career and his apartment complex, that Easterseals set up , and it's just across the street from the clinic in Silver Spring. 

“Sometimes we just need a few key components to get back into the full swing of things,” adds St. Preux. “You don’t need a new Rocky speech, you just need a few people that care.”

For St. Preux, those few people came from the Easterseals and The Cohen Veterans Network.  

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