Site Overlay

Unpacking Rick’s journey: Ending hoarding

Rick Tomme spent over two decades serving his country in the Air Force. It was a life he dedicated himself to, a life filled with discipline, camaraderie and purpose. But even in the structured life of a military career, hoarding was consuming him.

Like many service members, Tomme moved frequently, accumulating a lot of personal items along the way. Unlike others, he kept everything he ever owned, becoming a hoarder.

Veteran Tomme and his dog Shadow

“Hoarding is having so many things that managing the clutter becomes difficult, making it almost impossible to let go of items,” said Armintia Alcorn, professional counselor with North Texas VA.

After consulting with his primary care provider, Tomme was referred to the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC), a unique outreach program aiding Veterans challenged with serious mental illness and severe functional impairment.

“I found myself unable to part with the items no matter how insignificant. When it was time to go to my next duty station, I’d call the movers, they’d come in, box everything up and ship it.”

North Texas VA has designed classes and activities promoting independence for Veterans like Tomme. These services are delivered to about 258 Veterans quarterly with an average program duration of two years, but Veterans can remain longer, if necessary.

“As of 2023, Texas has the largest Veteran population of any state at over 1,543,160. Much of that population is concentrated in North Texas,” said North Texas VA executive director Jason Cave. “This designation underscores the growing need for mental health services for our Veterans.”

The road to recovery

“I received valuable advice from the counselors who never pushed me. I was reluctant at first, but deep down I knew they had my best interest at heart,” said Tomme, who successfully cleaned out a trailer full of items he once couldn’t part with and now has space just for him and his necessities. “Living in the country is wonderful. I’m looking forward to taking this trailer on the road and exploring more of it with my dog Shadow.”

For more information or if not sure of the type of help needed visit  VA Mental Health Services | Veterans Affairs.

Welcome to your local American Legion! We will no longer be open for dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays.