Roseburg VA chaplain helps veterans heal after Hurricane Michael

(L-R) Chaplain Mohammed Hussain(Washington DC VA); Dr. Heather Durban (Biloxi VA); and Chaplain Jonathan Landan (Roseburg VA).

PANAMA CITY, Flor. -- Two VA employees were on a special mission in the days following Hurricane Michael, including one from the Roseburg VA, the Gulf Coast Veterans HCS Public Affairs office said.

Chaplains Jonathan Landon from the Roseburg VA in Oregon and Mohammed Hussain from the Washington DC VA both have been boots-on-the-ground in Panama City, Florida, for the past two weeks aiding Veterans in response and recovery from Hurricane Michael. They provided much needed assistance through outreach at community shelters, worship services, patient intake, ministry of presence, medication drop off and personal counseling.

Chaplain Landon shared that while it was heartbreaking to hear the stories of such great loss, he felt good about the positive attitude and hopefulness of recovery exhibited by people he came across as he traveled in and around town.

“I am amazed at the way a disaster like this brings out the good in people,” Landan said. “I’ve heard so many stories about neighbors helping neighbors and people just being there for each other.”

Chaplain Hussain agreed and added, “Veterans that stopped by our 'tent city' really appreciated that we were there for them. They were very grateful. It was an honor to hear the veteran stories and see their resiliency.”

Chaplains Landon and Hussain are part of VA’s Disaster Emergency Management Personnel System (DEMPS). While their work in Panama City may be done, the impact they left on the community will linger long after.

Another VA employee, Dr. Heather Durban, a licensed psychologist from the Biloxi VA, was on-site to assist with crisis intervention and counseling, and consultation to other services regarding mental health treatment.

She said, “I saw many combat veterans who were triggered by conditions in Panama City and other affected areas, and many veterans who were trying to process their experiences of riding out Hurricane Michael. It was an honor to work with these veterans to help provide services.”

Dr. Durban also expressed gratitude to VA for the quick emergency response.

“It was also an honor to work with such an excellent Emergency Response Team at our Mobile Medical Clinic and see VHA staff from across the country pull together to provide such compassionate care to our veterans,” she said.

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