Putting Veterans First

Supporting those in need has always been a priority for Thomas Wolff, ’14, so when he learned that Maryville’s graduate program in rehabilitation counseling focuses on a person-first approach, he enrolled.

“I have a passion for helping others,” says Wolff. “It was always there but I didn’t know where to go with it. The program gives a student great knowledge of the field, in multiple counseling categories, and the professors become trusted colleagues you can rely on after graduating.”

Wolff says his studies are integral to his job as veteran service coordinator for MERS/Goodwill in St. Louis.

“I was taught to see the individual as a whole instead of someone who has a mental health issue, like post-traumatic stress disorder,” Wolff says. “The disorder doesn’t define them as a person.”

Wolff works with veterans who are involved in treatment court. He accompanies them to court, works with them to secure required community service hours and helps them transition to the workforce. He also works with veterans to develop resumes and interview skills, and guides them through the job application process.

Wolff is not a veteran, but his father, grandfather and an uncle all served in the armed forces.

“Veterans are going through a very rough time and need help finding their way,” says Wolff. “After I graduated, I pitched a different aspect of veteran services to MERS/Goodwill. They got on board and have supported me ever since.”

The mission of the St. Louis Veterans Treatment Court system is to divert veteran offenders with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders from the normal criminal justice process by providing frequent judicial oversight, intensive supervision and treatment through a holistic approach.

“There are over 70,000 veterans in St. Louis County alone,” Wolff says. “That’s why there is a definite need for this program. The specialized court system that has been created in the St. Louis metro area for veterans takes into consideration the numerous barriers these men and women face. I have made countless phone calls, sent emails and bugged the heck out of judges in order to get my foot in the door because I truly feel that I can help.”