Errera CCC Introduction

Over the past two decades, through a steady process of program modification and development, VA Connecticut’s Errera Community Care Center (“ECCC”) has evolved into one of the leading centers of innovation in psychosocial rehabilitation and in the integration of the psychosocial and biomedical approaches.  ECCC serves veterans struggling with mental illness and/ or substance abuse disorders, homelessness, and/or aging.  At the ECCC, a team of multidisciplinary mental health professionals come together to provide an array of community-based rehabilitative programs including day and crisis intervention programs, vocational programs, housing programs (ranging from subsidized to non-subsidized, supported to non-supported), homeless outreach and advocacy and case management programs. 

Believing in recovery and hope, and utilizing the principles of psychiatric rehabilitation, ECCC staff-members partner directly with the veteran being served to identify his or her goals and needs.  Recovery plans build on the person’s strengths and help the individual compensate for the negative effects of the psychiatric disability.  Services and supports are provided in the community to enhance natural support systems, to advance independence, and integration, so that each individual can live and function at optimal levels in the least restrictive environment possible. 


Affirmative, non-stigmatizing attitudes about persons with mental illness, framed by an empowerment structure serve as the foundation of ECCC psychosocial rehabilitation services.   ECCC represents the vanguard of the national movement to integrate Peer Specialists into mental health treatment and recovery programs.  Peer Specialists are health and mental health service consumers who have received peer counseling training, and have demonstrated the skill, motivation, and desire to help their peers in a supportive and/or counseling role.  Most have either suffered from mental or physical illness, substance abuse problems, and/or have been homeless.  ECCC’s eleven Peer Specialists are integrated throughout ECCC’s programs.  In a myriad of ways, they strengthen and enrich those programs. 


People in recovery operate the Veterans Empowerment Committee (VEC).  Recipients of services play an active role in the day-to-day operations of the ECCC by orienting all new recipients of services, running the community lunch program, identifying issues and needs, and advocating and seeking resources to meet these needs.  Persons in recovery are involved in all aspects of ECCC programming including writing and/or co-signing all policies.  Persons in recovery also hold direct leadership roles by serving as Community Mental Health Advisory Board members who advise and consult to the Chief, Mental Health Care line and staff at VA CT.  They monitor the services provided, advocate both within the hospital leadership structure and within the recovery community on issues important to quality of care, access to care, and resources.  In addition, recipients of services serve as facilitators for Vet-to-Vet, a consumer designed, run and facilitated psycho-educational program which was initiated at the ECCC by Moe Armstrong in early 2002.  Meetings are both educational and supportive and are led by consumers each weekday.  Critical to the full spectrum of services provided at the ECCC are the community partnerships that have been established and nurtured with a wide range of private industry, charitable and governmental bodies in the region. 


At ECCC veterans are served with innovative, effective, individualized programs to find transitional and supportive housing and jobs through a Compensated Work Therapy Program.  In addition, staff advocate locally and regionally to rectify the overwhelming effects of homelessness, poverty, inadequate resources and the stigma of mental illness.

Evidence of ECCC’s recognition as the leader in each of its fields of endeavor is found in the increasing number of organizations coming to ECCC to learn, the role its staff plays in education throughout the country, how it operates, and how its model can be replicated throughout the nation.
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