Military veterans with service connected illnesses/injuries have trouble accessing Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics due to distance, expense of travel and, at times, stress related disorders.
Southern Maryland Battle Buddies (SMBB) is a non-partisan, veteran volunteer led, program dedicated to helping veterans of military service, their families and significant others heal. Primarily through confidential peer support, informed advocacy and expert referral we will help veterans overcome barriers to health care, access work and educational opportunities and reintegrate into civilian society. SMBB is registered non-profit corporation in the state of Maryland.
SMBB is not a professional counseling organization, seeks no compensation and desires no authority. However, our two principal veteran volunteers do have a wealth of experience and training:
Mr. Gill Rivera: is a combat veteran of Vietnam where he served with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade and was wounded in action. Mr. Rivera was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and, for his combat wounds, the Purple Heart. Upon returning from Vietnam Gill found wisdom and healing while living and training with the Wichol Indians of western Mexico. He also lived with the Maya and Seminole Indians where he learned many healing techniques. Mr. Rivera has college degrees in History, Political Science and has nearly completed his Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work. Gill’s vocation is “working with combat veterans”. His primary function with SMBB will be to staff our veterans drop in center and provide out reach services to vets.
Dr. Al Brewster: is also a Vietnam veteran where, as an enlisted United States Marine, he served as the Admiral’s bodyguard aboard the USS Forrestal. He was decorated for life saving heroism when, during a horrific fire off the coast of Vietnam, 134 sailors died. Al returned from Vietnam earning degrees in Psychology and American Studies, a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work. Later, after returning to active duty as an Air Force Officer, he earned a doctorate in Social Work. Included among Dr. Brewster’s many military duties was his service as a Chief of Mental Health; Director of Research for the $34M Air Force Family Advocacy Program; Director of an Alcohol Rehabilitation Program and, in his last assignment, Director of Medical Education at Malcolm Grow Medical Center Andrews Air Force Base. Dr. Brewster taught counseling skills to military physicians, published in the area of the military family and currently enjoys a small private practice in association with the Chesapeake Christian Counseling Center in Sunderland. Considered an expert on the military family and PTSD Al has served as a member of the Tri-County Council Veterans Advisory Committee since 2008. Al’s primary function with SMBB will be to provide training and supervision for those volunteers selected to become Battle Buddies.