Supporting our Front Line – Military Veterans and First Responders

Connections Wellness Group – Rockwall

COVER Wellness edit

“We’re a species designed to rely on one another to survive
and thrive. We’ve acclimated to work with others. Our message to vets and
first responders is that we will hear and help you. This is not a road you
need to go alone. Please reach out and let us help

– Christopher Payne, MSW, LCSW, CPT – Counseling

Annette Brooks  | Photos by Lake Pointe

Our gratitude for our military veterans and
first responders is immense. Few of us, however, can truly imagine the toll
their jobs take on the psyche, but research data shines a light on the
reality. Studies indicate the rate of depression among soldiers is five times
higher than among civilians, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is 15
times higher. And according to Psychiatric Times, it’s estimated that 30% of
first responders have developed mental health issues, more than 10% higher than
the general population.

With Connections Wellness Group Rockwall’s
mental health treatment program for veterans and first responders, expert,
personalized help is available and nearby. Counseling Therapist Christopher
Payne, MSW, LCSW, CPT, specializes in helping veterans and first responders.
Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for six years while serving in the U.S.
Army, he’s passionate about providing mental health care to veterans and
first responder brothers and sisters. In fact, it was his experiences as a
combat medic that inspired him to enter the mental health

“Vets and first responders calling for an
appointment at Connections Wellness Group in Rockwall ask for me, or they’re
filtered to me,” says Chris. His approach comes from genuine empathy and a
deep understanding of why they feel like they do. As he puts it, “I’ve walked
in their shoes. I got into the mental health profession to help people like
me.” He builds trust and develops a close rapport and meaningful connections
with his clients.

MAIN Wellness

Myths, Dispelling Stigmas

It’s tempting to think of military personnel
and first responders as superhuman or even calloused somehow, but Chris Payne
reminds us that police, fire, and vets are all very human, just like

“The general population is exposed to things
like crime, fire, and death. Vets and first responders have a higher degree
of exposure due to their professions, so issues such as PTSD, MDD (major
depressive disorder), and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) are more
prevalent.” He points out that they also work to cope with being stigmatized.
“Law enforcement, for example, may be viewed as cold-hearted when it couldn’t
be further from the truth. All of this can significantly affect one’s mental
health and well-being.”

Chris also points out a couple of the
misconceptions people may have about vets and first responders afflicted with
mental health issues.

“It’s a myth that people with PTSD are
dangerous. This isn’t necessarily the case,” he explains. Research backs this
up, indicating most veterans and others with PTSD have never engaged in

Another myth is that feeling suicidal is
selfish. “This is simply untrue, and it stigmatizes people who feel
hopelessness, helplessness, pain, and anguish.” He implores everyone to
become more aware of red flags that appear before an act of suicide, and
adds, “Around 97% of people want to talk with someone about their suicidal
feelings but hold back for fear of being misunderstood or

Lastly, Chris says that trying to power
through mental health issues on your own is contrary to our basic human
traits. “We’re a species designed to rely on one another to survive and
thrive. We’ve acclimated to work with others. Our message to vets and first
responders is that we will hear and help you. This is not a road you need to
go alone. Please reach out and let us help you.”


Personalized Care for Vets and First Responders

Chris, who is EMDR-trained, uses a variety of
therapeutic approaches to provide customized treatment for vets and first
responders. They include but are not limited to CPT (cognitive processing
therapy) and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) for

EMDR is a psychotherapy that can help you
process upsetting memories, thoughts, and feelings related to the trauma. By
processing these experiences, you can get relief from PTSD

CPT, a specific type of cognitive behavioral
therapy for PTSD, teaches you how to evaluate and change the upsetting
thoughts you’ve had since your trauma. By changing your thoughts, you can
change how you feel.

Additionally, a program for veterans and
first responders developed by Connections Wellness Group, Frontline, is
provided through the McKinney location. Available in person and virtually,
there’s a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and an intensive outpatient
program (IOP). The severity of a patient’s symptoms will determine the level
of care. Call the McKinney office at (469)
for more information.

Award-winning Connections Wellness Group

Wellness Group offers personalized, accessible, cost-effective mental health
solutions, serving residents throughout North Texas with 12 convenient
locations. Their mission is to connect you to meaningful, life-improving
situations which promote positive change for your overall wellness.

The Rockwall
office serves both adults and children. Whether you’re suffering from
depression, anxiety, substance abuse, an eating disorder, self-harm, grief,
loss, trauma, or another issue, Connections Wellness Group Rockwall
encourages you to schedule a free consultation

  • Innovative, integrated treatment model
  • Therapy
  • Psychiatry
  • Medication
  • Youth PHP
    and IOP (13 to 18)
  • Adult PHP
    and TOP (18 and up)
  • Telehealth
    mental health services
  • Accredited
    private school instruction
  • In-network
    with major insurance companies, Tricare

Pathway to
Wellness and Recovery

Whether you
or someone you love is a veteran or first responder struggling with PTSD,
depression, anxiety, or another issue, please call Connections Wellness Group
Rockwall at (469) 545-0160
and schedule a complimentary consultation.

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