Name: Billie Chapman

Age: 35

Where you work:

Sheridan VA Medical Center

What you do: Licensed clinical social worker for the VA Community Living Center and program manager for the Community Nursing Home Program

Where did you grow up?

I lived in Edgerton, Wyoming until I was 9 years old and then moved to Sheridan where I spent the remainder of my childhood.

If you attended college, where and what did you study?

I graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and minor in religious studies; I obtained a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Wyoming in 2008.

You get to work with our nation’s veterans. What is that like? What does your day-to-day usually look like?

Working with our nation’s veterans is an honor and privilege. Many of them have endured experiences that I can’t even imagine and it is rewarding to be able to give back to them. My day to day significantly varies depending on the needs of the veterans on my case load at any given time and my program management responsibilities. I coordinate the admissions to the Community Living Center and Community Nursing Home programs and participate in team meetings to coordinate veteran care. Sometimes I am meeting with veterans and/or their families to discuss what services are needed for them to return home, steps needed to transition to a long term care facility, or end of life planning. Some days I am on the road visiting veterans placed on contract in our Community Nursing Home facilities. Then there are days when I bunker down in my office to catch up on documentation, complete reports, and return phone call from people who are seeking information about the long term care services available through the VA. There are a variety of other responsibilities that I address as they arise as well.

You’ve done some work with Dementia Friendly Wyoming and suicide prevention, too, right? Why are those causes for which you’ve decided to advocate?

I have worked with some of the staff from Dementia Friendly Wyoming in collaboration with the VA Caregiver Support Program and Family Caregiver Services at The Hub to plan caregiver support events. I also completed the Train the Trainer course through Dementia Friendly Wyoming. With the arrival of the Baby Boomer generation at the age of 65+ we have seen a significant increase in the presentation of dementia symptoms and need for intervention and support. The availability of services does not match the need and I work to help increase awareness and support.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, suicide awareness and prevention is part of my job. Wyoming as a whole has one of the highest suicide death rates in the nation. Wyoming has ranked at number one more than once in that area. Like dementia, the need for services significantly outweighs the availability among the general population. In my role as 2018 State President for the Wyoming Jaycees, I designated Suicide Awareness and Prevention as a State Priority Project, challenging each of the four chapters in the State to hold at least one project this year focused on this topic. That could range from holding a training to educate members about suicide or participating in a walk or fundraiser to support suicide prevention.

You’re also heavily involved in the local and statewide Jaycees. What does that organization do and why is it important?

The Jaycees provide personal and professional development opportunities to empower young people between the ages of 18 and 40 to be active citizens and create positive change. We hold trainings, social events, fundraisers and community projects to support various causes. The Jaycees provide a support system for young members that is often lacking in rural communities and provide streamlined information, training, and opportunities to apply knowledge and skill toward making a positive difference in whatever areas are of most need or about which members are most passionate. For example, the Sheridan, Johnson County, and Riverton either have participated or will participate in Relay for Life in June, the Platte Valley chapter held a highway clean up event. The Johnson County chapter will be participating in the suicide prevention Hike for Hope in Buffalo on June 24; the Riverton Jaycees organize the Fremont County Fair Parade every year; the Platte Valley Chapter will be hosting their second annual Duathlon on August 11th; and the Sheridan Jaycees just hosted the “Stars of Yesterday” event.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not involved in any of the above activities?

I love going on weekend road trips with my husband and our border collie and playing with our four ferrets.

What’s your favorite ‘90s song? What memories does it bring back?

I was a big Christian Music fan in the 90s and I LOVED “In the Light” sang by DC Talk. That song brings back memories of attending my first concert (it was a DC Talk concert), St. Peter’s Episcopal Church youth group road trips to music festivals that including days-long van rides in an old church van with no air conditioning.

What advice would you give people who are unsure of how or where to get involved in the community?

Ask the Jaycees! Even if you aren’t between the ages of 18 and 40, the Jaycees have volunteer opportunities for all ages and are well-connected with other community agencies that have volunteer opportunities as well.