San Rafael, CA – Marin County military veterans in need of counseling or therapy no longer need to cross a bridge or drive into another county to get professional help. They can pay a visit to Dr. Jesse Wade, a combat veteran and clinical psychologist who works for the Veterans Administration. Wade recently increased his presence in Marin by being available four days a week, Tuesdays through Fridays.
Dr. Jesse Wade is not only a U.S. Air Force vet with Iraq War experience, he's also a clinical psychologist who wants to help fellow vets.
Wade works for the VA’s San Francisco Vet Center, which cares for veterans readjusting to society after military service. There are more than 300 Vet Centers across the nation and its territories.
Although based in San Francisco, Wade said he found that his services were needed and appreciated in Marin, as demonstrated the Marin County Veterans Service Office, led by Sean Stephens. Wade, a former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, is the only VA-funded mental health provider in Marin. Keenly aware of high veteran suicide rates and homelessness, Stephens has worked to expand veteran services in recent years. Psychological services previously were offered two or three days a week at the 10 North San Pedro Road office before Stephens orchestrated the increase to four days.
“Providing me with office space and expanded hours is the most recent example of Sean’s drive and advocacy for veterans’ causes,” Wade said.
Stephens, a U.S. Army combat vet, said there are nearly 14,000 veterans in Marin, the bulk of whom served during the Vietnam War. Especially for Vietnam vets, retirement from work and an “empty nest” on the home front can sometimes lead to more introspection and a realization that they still have issues to solve, Wade said, even if it’s been 50 years since they experienced combat or another trauma. Before Wade was in Marin, most veterans would have to go to Santa Rosa, San Francisco, or Oakland to access any type of VA mental health services.
“With Jesse’s office next door to ours, the burden on a veteran to travel to access mental health services is eliminated,” Stephens said. “That’s a blessing for an aging Marin veteran population for whom health and mobility is most likely becoming an increased challenge.”
In one location, veterans can be referred for documenting evidence of their mental health disability and receive therapy. If a veteran does choose therapy, a session with Wade can be about whatever the veteran wants to discuss, with no requirement to talk about their military service.
Although his main assignment during his service was at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany from 2004-2008, Wade was deployed all over the world, Europe, North America, Iraq, the Middle East, and Africa. The staff sergeant was an Air Force loadmaster/cargo specialist on the C-130 Hercules, and carried everything from bullets and beans, to diplomats and dignitaries, the wounded and the fallen. While in Iraq, he flew on more than 200 combat missions.
Wade’s combat veteran status scores well on the credibility scale with skeptical vets who come from an era where the government was not seen as an ally. He specializes in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma, and depression.
“I think it gives me a half-second lead before somebody says ‘no’ to receiving help,” he said. “It takes away a lot of defenses that vets might have toward non-vet people who are trying to help them.”
Wade’s parents were both mental health practitioners and advocates, and after his service his passion for wanting to help fellow vets drew him to psychology.
“After my service ended, I realized I wanted to be the vet who works with vets and helps them make sense of it all,” he said.
Wade offers individual, couples and group counseling sessions Tuesdays through Fridays. Whether or not veterans served in combat zones, all vets and immediate family members are eligible to receive assistance in from the Veterans Services Office. Any vets who contact Wade will be evaluated on how he can help them.
Wade can be contacted at 415-473-7565, and the Veterans Services Office staff can be reached at 415-473-6193. Both offices are at 10 North San Pedro Road in San Rafael, across the street from the Marin County Civic Center. More information about services is on the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services website.