Military veterans Connie Walker and her son Michael Segich fought battles that neither had anticipated.
In 2003, Connie retired as a Navy Captain after 23 years of service. At about the same time, her son returned from Army service in Iraq. Back at home Michael would wake up screaming and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and depression.
Mother and son struggled together to find mental health treatment and services that would enable him to regain a sense of stability and independence. Now, Michael lives in his own apartment and holds a job at Metcalfe’s in Hilldale as a grocery bagger. But, his journey included hospitalizations, failed medications and treatment, and an unhappy spell at a group home.
Michael told reporter David Wahlberg, “If I didn’t have my mom or the other people advocating for me, I could very well be homeless.”
Daniel Zimmerman, secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, named Connie the Woman Veteran of the Year for her “tireless advocacy for veterans.” She developed and will lead Homefront, a series of six classes to be offered at NAMI-Dane. In the series, Connie will use what she learned as Michael’s advocate to help veterans with mental illness, their families, and caregivers.
Click here for more information about Homefront and a registration form.
For more information about Connie and Michael, read David Wahlberg’s article “Retired Navy Captain Helps Son and other Veterans with Mental Illness.”