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Hope For Veterans

January 4, 2021

E5 Therapy opened in April with a different way to help veterans in therapy.

They offer canine-assisted therapy along with talk therapy to veterans and veterans’ families in Solano County.

Owner Matthew Decker is a licensed clinical social worker in Northern California, focused on helping veterans achieve their mental health goals.

Along with his team, trained service dog Larson, who is a golden retriever and lab mix, and Maggie Mae, a black lab, Decker has worked for community mental health agencies, Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and the California Department of State Hospitals.

Maggie is now in retirement, working part-time as she feels like it, usually one day per week.

“The name comes from the military pay grade of sergeant, who is a working supervisor,” Decker said. “They aren’t afraid to work through the dirty stuff and therapy can be dirty.”

Decker said he believes that attaining a healthy state of mental health takes working through some nasty, dirty feelings, memories and emotions that are tough to deal with, and he is there for his clients day or night to help them become healthier mentally.

“The pain is real,” he said. “And I am not the type of person to shy away from it.”

Decker served in the U.S. Marine Corps. That is where he realized that so many soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines need therapy.

Canine-assisted therapy helps people, because dogs never judge you for crying, he said. They don’t care how many tears you shed, have no timetable and they aren’t going anywhere.

“In the long run it allows clients to take down their defenses much faster,” Decker said. “I am able to dig deeper and faster once they feel safe. This leads to success for the clients.”

Decker also offers a dog-fostering program for clients who may need to go into an in-service facility for a time and might be faced with surrendering their own dogs because of it.

“We can take them for up to 90 days and if we need to, we can hold them longer,” he said.

E5 Therapy is a small and growing nonprofit business organization so Decker said he relies on donations to help facilitate the program.

He said he needs volunteers to help with the foster program as well as other duties like IT work. Decker said he plans to expand the nonprofit in the future into a larger building with more therapists and canine companions.

“One hundred percent of the donations go to help vets who can’t afford to go to therapy or continue therapy,” Decker said.

He has worked hard during the Covid-19 pandemic to create a safe, healthy space for talk therapy. He offers sessions through the Zoom teleconference platform, in person and over the phone. He said he prefers to do sessions without masks because it is easier to read people that way.

“With Covid, I am willing to engage people where they are most comfortable,” Decker said.

The office space has gloves, a UVC air purifying machine to clear the air, hand sanitizers and a machine with UVC light to clean cellphones while clients talk.

Covid-19 is allowing people with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder to avoid people and places. Decker said he knows that this will have a huge impact on their mental health and hopes that those who are suffering will reach out before they find themselves in a mental crisis.

Decker said he hopes those who have anxiety and depression in this time understand they don’t have to go into battle alone with mental health issues, Covid-19 anxiety and PTSD – they have a friend just a phone call away.

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