JJ Pinter and the Importance of Wellness

“I had gotten out of the Army and was working at Caterpillar and having some success there. I had been promoted a few times rather quickly and was doing all the things I was supposed to do, but I started finding myself really unfulfilled with the work I was doing. If you really strip it all away, I was having a tough time wrapping my head around trying to get the stock price higher and getting a bunch of rich people richer. At some point I had the realization that I missed working on something that had a sense of purpose and was bigger than me. At the same time I started looking around at some of my friends that I was in the military with who were struggling with their transition, and these were people who had everything going for them. They had all of the support structures in the world, and it made me think, “what about all the people who don’t have those support structures in place?” That was my first realization that there was a problem that I could see and wanted to be involved in fixing.

I started volunteering with Team RWB at first and then had the opportunity to come on as an early employee. Being a part of building an organization is something I’m really proud of. At @teamrwb we look at mental health from a holistic stand point. It’s not just physical health, it’s mental health, emotional health, relationships, service, and a sense of purpose. The thing about health and well-being is everything is connected, and that’s what I’ve really come to realize is that you can’t look at any of these things in a silo. There are connections between exercise and mental health. What’s crazy to me is if you fall down and break your arm you’ll go to the emergency room and they’ll put a cast on your arm, and no one even thinks twice about that. However, if you have a mental illness you can very much do the same thing. You can go get treatment, you can get better, and go back upon your regular life. People don’t do that though because they’re scared to feel stigmatized or whatever it is, but I think that’s all changing.

When veterans come through our program, our leaders and fellow members help get new members into the resources that they might not know exist. We’re not trying to be all things to all people, we’re just trying to make sure that we have a really solid referral network. Veterans working together with other veterans across the country who are aware of the resources around them, and through the building of relationships can identify some of those people who need additional mental healthcare and can help get them into it. That’s why models like Headstrong work so well because they meet you where you are. I think it’s really a question of convenience and how can we make mental healthcare as accessible as possible to veterans. I personally think a model like Headstrong where you’re taking an already existing infrastructure and you’re meeting them where they’re at is really important. I keep going back to this idea of emphasizing the importance of overall health. If you don’t ever go get some type of mental healthcare to some extent you might not ever know how good you can feel.”

Healing the hidden wounds of war