November 10 at 11:36pm

Veterans Director, Megan Hawker, named Salute to Service County award winner

megan-hawkerCongratulations to Megan Hawker, MFT, Psy.D, who was honored with the County’s “Salute to Service” award on the eve of Veterans Day! The award was presented at the 2016 Veterans Forum, hosted by Supervisor Bill Horn. The event welcomed Active Duty service members, Veterans, Military/Veterans service providers, community-based organizations and community members to learn the latest information on collaborative efforts to serve San Diego County’s military population.

Dr. Hawker epitomizes the characteristics for selfless service to veterans in the North San Diego County Region. She exemplifies selflessness and service leadership to both veterans and their families through her tireless efforts to provide timely and impactful programs that promote stability, housing security, and workforce development opportunities for our nation’s heroes. As an Army veteran who was deployed to Iraq in 2003, 2004, 2005-6, and continues to serve as a Medical Services Officer in the Army Reserves, Megan has a unique understanding of the complex needs veterans and their families may face. Her compassion and empathy is matched by her educational and clinical expertise in evidence-based interventions to address Post-Traumatic Stress, while simultaneously promoting Post-Traumatic Growth among struggling veterans, enhancing their health, wellness, and overall quality of life.

Post-Traumatic Growth is the often overlooked positive change that can result from experiencing traumatic events, such as increased appreciation for life. Her work with active duty military and veterans for over twelve years has afforded Dr. Hawker extensive knowledge on military culture, which she weaves into her role as Director of Veterans Services at Interfaith Community Services. In her work at Interfaith, Dr. Hawker and her staff utilize military cultural sensitivity, strengths-based programming to promote Post-Traumatic Growth and trauma-informed care. Post-Traumatic Growth research and practice is rooted in fostering resilience among survivors of trauma. Individuals may report realizing that they are in fact stronger than they previously thought, and some may connect or reconnect with spiritual practices. Notably, research shows an improvement in relating to others, particularly pro-social behaviors and increased appreciation for life and/or the realization of new possibilities in life exist for the trauma survivors.

Last year alone, under Dr. Hawker’s direction, Interfaith’s Veterans Services Department served 924 veterans and saw tremendous success in outcomes. Seventy three percent of the veterans in Interfaith’s Transitional Housing Program successfully overcame homelessness, and 89% of veterans receiving counseling improved their family and peer relationships. Dr. Hawker also oversees the Hawthorne Veterans & Family Resource Center, one of only five veteran recuperative care programs in the entire nation, with funding by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Under Dr. Hawker’s expert supervision, 70% of Recuperative Care Program veterans overcame homelessness since the opening of the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center in October 2015.

In their work to end homelessness among veterans, Interfaith also operates the Make it a Home program. Previously homeless veterans typically come with little in the way of possessions and often have very limited resources in their transition to independent  living.  To assist in a successful transition, Interfaith, along with community partners, works to connect each veteran with essential household items, such as furniture, bedding, towels and cleaning supplies.  If you are interested in supporting our local veterans with this initiative, please contact Bob Adams, Chief Development Officer, at radams@interfaith.org or 760-803-9615.

 

Thank you, Megan and all those who work to help veterans in our community, for your tireless efforts! Together, we can reverse the cycle of homelessness among our local heroes.