Huntingtonís Disease (HD) is an inherited brain disorder
that results in the progressive loss of both mental faculties and physical
control. Symptoms usually appear between
the ages of 30 to 50, and worsen over a 10 to 25-year period. Ultimately, the
weakened individual succumbs to pneumonia, heart failure or another
My name is Olga L. Wuerz, a United States Army Veteran. In December 2008, my life completely changed when I became a Peer Support Specialist at the Dallas VA Hospital.
During my second enlistment in 1980 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with psychosis. I became a Disabled Veteran and because I was an alcoholic they said I had a Dual Diagnosis. I began a ten year in and out stay in this same hospital on the acute in-patient ward.
After those years, I spent my time at home watching TV or helping my family, I then started to feel my life passing by me. Itís then that I decided to volunteer at the VA. I joined the Mental Health Consumer Advocacy Council. After visiting with a Peer Specialist, I knew that I too wanted to be Peer Specialist.
I met Dr. Dohoney the Peer Supervisor and was accepted into the program. I flew to Chicago to attend the DBSA Peer Support Training and became certified.
Currently and for the last four years, Iíve worked in the same acute in-patient ward where I once was a patient. I enjoy giving support and helping offer hope of recovery.
At the moment Iím preparing to present at the VA National Mental Health In-Patient Training Conference where I am one of three Peer Specialist nation-wide discussing how Peer Specialist Impact an In-Patient unit.
Becoming a Peer Specialist has changed the person I am in so many ways, Iíve developed confidence I never knew I had. My self-esteem is stronger than ever. I feel as if now I have a purpose or mission to my life.
Helping others who are going through the confusion I did for many years is a gift I thank God for. I never thought that by learning to become a better listener and then sharing my own experience of chaos would actually help someone realize that their not alone, but that they too could come through it. I am so much stronger and healthier physically and mentally than I have ever been.
The fact is that by helping my fellow veterans find hope and understanding, and what recovery can look like when they see and talk with me, I always let them know just how much they actually help me stay within my own recovery.