Every Monday morning, Army Veteran Diane Parker logs into her computer to join a few of her fellow Veterans to start her week with a relaxation group called Jumpstart. It’s led by Nilka Rivera-Ortiz, a clinical psychologist at the Mesquite Vet Center.

Jumpstart is a drop-in style group that allows Veterans to attend as their schedule permits. Open to all Mesquite Vet Center active clients, the group is virtual so Veterans can attend from wherever they happen to be as long as they can join in a safe environment.

“The group started as an idea to make and build something different that hasn’t been offered in the past and I wanted to make it something that was approachable,” Rivera-Ortiz said. “The reason it is called Jumpstart is because I wanted something where Veterans could join and jumpstart their week.

“The group is a very simple structure where I guide them through a relaxation exercise,” she added. “It can be mindfulness meditation. It can be a visualization exercise or combination of both. The exercise may last for 15 to 20 minutes. Then we spend a few minutes discussing what their responses have been.”

Dr. Rivera-Ortiz talks with Army Veteran Diane Parker during Jumpstart, a virtual relaxation group.

When Rivera-Ortiz first told Parker about the new group, the latter knew she wanted to be a part of it. First attending a group in June, she has continued to participate and looks forward to it each week.

“I’ve tried other things to try and relax and calm me down because I have a lot of anxiety, and it hits me every now and then,” Parker said. “I was so glad when she told me about this group. I said, oh yeah, absolutely. Sign me up because I know it will help me.”

Rivera-Ortiz provides a safe space for the Veterans in the group and no one is pressured to share anything. The group is about having a place to practice a skill, get some education, and start the week off on a safe and peaceful note.

“I want everyone to feel comfortable enough to join together,” Rivera-Ortiz said. “They don’t have the pressure to share anything that’s personal. They don’t have to share anything about their trauma, whether it’s MST or combat trauma. They’re just here to learn something or learn a new skill to help them regulate their emotions or just start their week in a better place.”

Parker says she has taken skills from the group and used them to help her through her week when times can sometimes get challenging.

“There are times when I need help to relax and I can hear Dr. Rivera-Ortiz in the back of my head saying all those things she teaches us in the group,” Parker said. “Honestly, it has helped me a lot and she lets me know that I can do this.”

Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers providing a broad range of counseling, outreach and referral services, free-of-charge in a safe and confidential environment.

Services are available to eligible Veterans, active duty service members (including National Guard and Reserve), and their families.

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31 Comments

  1. Anthony August 12, 2021 at 10:32 am

    I m 88 yes old will this help me. 100% dis

    • Brandon West August 30, 2021 at 10:42 am

      If you want to have a way to relax, then yes. I’ve been with this group since inception and it has helped me out tremendously.

  2. Debbie Meeks August 12, 2021 at 8:31 am

    It is great that there are programs available for the military past and present and their spouses. If it were not for our military I would hate to even begin to think what the US would be like. Thank you so very much for all you do.

  3. loftonlong August 12, 2021 at 8:16 am

    good job keep it up it worth saying twice

  4. loftonlong August 12, 2021 at 8:14 am

    good job keep it up

  5. Sharon Levius August 12, 2021 at 7:56 am

    This information was very helpful.

  6. mat lalli August 12, 2021 at 7:27 am

    keep up the good work

  7. Bruce Blumhoefer August 12, 2021 at 7:14 am

    It took a year to get scheduled and approved for a VA dental appointments. Why so long?

  8. Richard Rainey August 12, 2021 at 6:35 am

    I think what they are doing is very good and I commend their efforts to enhance veterans lifestyles.

  9. jerry meier August 12, 2021 at 6:30 am

    seems like a worthy program

  10. Michael Kelly August 12, 2021 at 4:54 am

    I would like to win this truck

  11. Robert Daley August 12, 2021 at 4:10 am

    All good to help my fellow veterans especially because when I needed help no one was there.

  12. John Bertelsen August 12, 2021 at 12:57 am

    I am a Vietnam Veteran that served in the Air Fore. Service dates March 30, 1973 to March 29, 1977. I did 4 deployments.

  13. Richard McNutt August 12, 2021 at 12:49 am

    I was wanting to enter the contest, but never did see where to do that. Typical VA misguidance….

  14. Jamie Sills August 12, 2021 at 12:32 am

    Awesome

  15. Damian Wieslaw Adamus August 11, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Great Action Thanks VA

  16. Donald G Russell August 11, 2021 at 11:27 pm

    I need a truck

  17. Lynn Folgate August 11, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    I had hoped to with the new Toyota but all I’ve seen was stories. Where are the winning fields to complete for the win of the Toyota?

  18. Richard Moulder August 11, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Good info

  19. Don Bille August 11, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    OK

  20. SHELBY YOUNT August 11, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    I VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE MY COUNTRY IMMEIATELY AFTER COMPLETEING HIGH SCHOOL. I WAS DENIED TWICE, BECAUSE OF THE OPEN HEART SURGERY I HAD JUST PRIOR TO MY 16TH BIRTHDAY. I PERSISTED AND WAS FINALLY ACCEPTED INTO THE NAVY. I WAS ASSIGNED TO THE SEVENTH FLEET, TO SERVE ON AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER IN THE GULF OF TOLKEN. LATER I WAS ASSIGNED TO A SQUADRON IN THE PHILIPPINES IN SUPPORT TO THE CARRIERS AND TROOPS IN VIETNAM.
    I LOVE THIS COUNTRY. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

  21. Thomas Stebbins August 11, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    Thank you

  22. Rudy Archuleta August 11, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Good knowing there is more assistance for our returning military in preparing them for good civilian careers. So many came back with no transferable skills. I was a veterans employment specialist and assisted many veterans with employment search and training.

  23. Lyle baumgartner August 11, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Love the va. Just had catoract surgery in Minneapolis. A very positive experience.

  24. Gerald Cagle August 11, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    Great article. Glad to have serve my country.

  25. Polesi Avauli Jr August 11, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Thank you!

  26. Jeff Nolan August 11, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Great deal.

  27. paquito ruga August 11, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    great info

  28. Tobey lafountain August 11, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    I think it’s great that our local businesses are hiring veterans.

  29. Eleese Parker August 11, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    I’m at the beginning of my ACT group through the veterans virtual site I had 3 classes today and they were very insightful and helpful to me because I deal with chronic pain I appreciate and honor the veterans and the civilian that helps at the VA they are wonderful people and I give them kudos

  30. Russell McKee August 11, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    I would like to participate in the Jumpstart relaxation program.

Comments are closed.

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