I have wanted to work here at McNabb Military Services since I came here in 2019 to assist with a Military Marriage Seminar hosted by Military Services through the Knoxville Marriage Initiative (KMI). I became affiliated with the KMI, now Healthy Connections Knoxville (HCK) in 2018 while working with one of their key members, who happened to be my clinical supervisor and thought my wife and I would be a good fit. Naturally, with my wife and me both being 30-year Air Force and Air National Guard veterans and being very interested in helping other vets, we were asked to participate in a military couples event. Immediately upon understanding what McNabb Military Services was after participating in this event in their conference room for three days, I knew this was what I wanted to do and where I wanted to work!
A couple of years after I retired from a very successful career with the Air Force, I decided to use the rest of my GI Bill benefits and studied psychology, which eventually turned into a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate institute in Santa Barbara, California, about an hour away from where I was last stationed at Point Mugu Naval Air Station. Moving from California to Tennessee in 2018, I had no idea what was in store for me, especially finding this unique fit as a military and veterans therapist with the McNabb Center here in Knoxville. It took a few years for there to be a vacancy but my dream was finally realized last year in April 2022. Since then I have had the pleasure of working with some of the military and veteran population here in Knoxville who have either been referred by their command or have reached out for help with us in the past 9 months.
To choose any one client to talk about would be too difficult. Every one of the clients I see has a unique issue(s) and we usually are able to cultivate a therapeutic bond fairly quickly, at least at first due to our service connections. Even though I am not from the area, I was assigned here at McGhee-Tyson Air Base for a few years back in the early 1990s, so I am very familiar with the area and the local Reserve and National Guard units as well as most of their missions. It also helps quite a bit that I had a four year assignment at the Pentagon working Army and Air National Guard missions, which helps me understand what types of things occur within the lives of our clients as well as being intimately familiar with the stresses of reserve and national guard daily life and operational deployments; living these things for most of my life is a definite plus. Additionally, having travelled to or deployed long-term to most of the locations our clients have deployed to as well, puts us in a unique situation in the therapist/client relationship that nothing has to be explained in detail, no terminology is misunderstood, nor is there a value misjudgment with required circumstances of war or other quandaries or stresses of military life.
Lastly, many of the clients I have the honor to work with are family members of current military or veterans who have been negatively impacted by the challenge of military service such as separation, post-traumatic stress, the anxiety of thinking about their loved-ones’ dangerous work, or many other challenges within this arena. Having been both a military member and the spouse of a military member also with two young boys who grew up in a military family, again provides a unique perspective in order to identify with these family struggles and assist them through their issues. Sometimes I have no idea how I ended up here doing this type of work, although at the same time, I couldn’t imagine having a better calling or background. Thanks to the McNabb Center, our donors, and the state grant that helps fund the Military Services program, I am allowed to follow this calling and able to help our veterans and their families in need.
-Louis Danner, Masters Clinical Counselor, Military Services
Employee since 2022