Recently, Bernard McLeroy, a Certified Peer Support Specialist in Myrtle Beach was recognized by the Myrtle Beach City Council for a Veterans’ Awareness Series he coordinates at the Chapin Memorial Library.
In addition to the award, the city council published a proclamation that thanked McLeroy for his leadership and commitment to the community.
“This was an outreach program that I designed in 2014,” said McLeroy. “It was to improve the access to care for Veterans to fight stigmas with getting help. It also helped to change the negative narrative around the VA.”
McLeroy is no stranger to the stigma of getting help after battling through alcohol abuse and PTSD issues related to his 10 years in the Army.
“My alcohol use started in the military, and I didn’t realize how much it affected my life,” he said. “It was a big transition. Now that I am on the road to recovery, I have seen how it can change my life.”
He credits his work as a peer support specialist for helping to keep him on the right track in his recovery, and for giving him more purpose in his work, too.
“Being a peer support specialist makes me remain grounded and engaged, because first we are a role model and we are able to show the Veterans how we are doing it, and the work that we are going through now,” McLeroy explained. “It’s definitely the most rewarding job I have ever had. By helping other Veterans, I am actually helping myself, too.”
Since he relocated from Canton, Ohio, in 2013, McLeroy has made it his mission to help Veterans find the access to care and programs that he knows personally will help them on their journey.
“The series is open to anyone who wants to find the services that the VA has, but my main purpose is to engage Veterans who are disengaged with the Mental Health services for the Myrtle Beach Annex,” he clarified. “These Veterans want someone to listen and someone who understands what they’re going through. Being a Veteran and especially in the peer support program, I can relate, and I understand how to get the help they need.”