ROCHESTER, N.Y. — “Trusting the process” is Nyeshia Bradford’s new moto. 

“I do a lot of things to stay grounded and balanced,” Bradford said. 

Painting is one of her favorite activities. 

What You Need To Know

  • Last year’s National Veteran Suicide Prevent report says the rate for female veterans jumped more than 24% compared to 6.3% for male veterans in the last year

  • Nyeshia Bradford served in the Navy from 1992 until 1996

  • She left with a laundry list of trauma so she turned to the Veterans Outreach Center for help

  • The VOC is opening a Peer-Support Drop-In Center to provide veterans extra mental health resources for extended hours, seven days a week
  • Bradford enjoys painting to help her cope 

“This is gonna be a beach scene. This is the sky right now,” she showed. 

Bradford served in the Navy from 1992 until 1996. From sexual trauma and domestic abuse to post-traumatic stress disorder, Bradford turned to alcohol as a way to cope. 

“It’s like pouring gasoline on a fire and expecting it to go out, and for me, it’s not going to work,” She explained. 

Bradford is still working on recovering from that nearly 30 years later. She’s happy to say she’s been sober for four years thanks to support from the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester. She says looking for help wasn’t the easiest decision for her. 

“That was my first step. So, I had a hard time. I’m like, 'I don’t wanna go,' but my friend was like, 'but they’ll help you.' I'm like, 'I don’t care, I don’t, I don’t know those people.' 'Just come and you’ll get everything you need,'” Bradford explained.

She’s glad that she did. 

“I didn’t picture myself to be the person I am now. I didn’t know if I was going to get better and I just didn’t want to be one of those people who gives excuses,” she said. 

Being comfortable to start the conversation can be the most difficult part of recovering. Last year’s National Veteran Suicide Prevent report says the rate for female veterans jumped more than 24% compared to 6.3% for male veterans in the last year. That’s what led the VOC to look into new ways to help. The organization recently broke ground for a new Peer-Support Drop-In Center that will provide extra mental health resources for extended hours of the day, seven days a week. 

“This facility isn’t just a physical structure, it embodies our commitment to the well-being of the men and women who served our nation,” explained Laura Heltz, executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center. “In establishing the center, we recognize the critical need for the space to extend beyond regular hours and beyond weekday hours. Because mental health struggles, loneliness and thoughts of suicide, unfortunately, can be very relentless and our veterans deserve a refuge that is available to them and accessible whenever they need it most.”

This was good news for veterans like Bradford. 

“I think it’s going to be able to give support, camaraderie and basic knowledge on other veteran things. I’m hoping that it just brings us all together," she said. 

Her journey at the VOC started eight years ago where her passion for painting first started. So, where better to have the new services than where her very first painting still lives? 

“I painted that eight years ago when I started there,” Bradford said as she showed her painting of a tree. “I love trees, you know, they have a story to tell.” 

Similarly, so does its artist. 

“Come, don’t be afraid. Join the community," Bradford said. "To join the community, whatever someone telling you, trust the process and be present. And just come on down, just come join us. There’s room for everybody.”