Andy Thor is there when things fall apart.
As a Navigator in VOA’s Emergency Response Suicide Prevention program, Andy cares for up to 23 clients for six months each. “Domestic violence. Suicidal ideation. Depression. Anxiety. Whatever it is they’re dealing with, we meet them where they’re at. We help them create a plan. How to heal. How to grow. How to cope.”
Andy has served in VOA’s Behavioral Health department since September of 2020, but this isn’t the first time he’s faced crises. In his 12 years in the US Army, Andy rose from an E1 Private to a Staff Sergeant while serving in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and at Fort Lewis in Washington. Andy, pictured above on the right, specialized in PSYOPs: running Target Audience Analyses to understand the values, culture, and beliefs of different peoples, and how his platoon could effectively communicate to change behavior. He switched over to the Reserves, and served for 3 years as a Correctional Officer at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe. In 2008 he was recalled to Active Duty to deploy to Iraq, but at the last moment was stationed for a year at Fort Hood, Texas, to train soldiers while his wife, Mary stayed behind in Washington.
Back in Washington, Andy’s daughter Abigail was born in 2011 after Andy was hired by the Lake Stevens Police Department, a dream job since high school. But night shifts put a strain on his family. He remembers one of Abigail’s first full sentences: “Daddy go work.” Andy wasn’t seeing his family enough – wasn’t being the father he wanted to be – and was seeing the worst of humanity too often. “There were times in police work where my hands were tied. We just helped them in that moment, but those moments leave people feeling vulnerable, raw.” For his family and for himself, he had to get out.
After a few years of theft investigation for Microsoft and working in a friend’s home restoration business, Andy found VOA last Fall. “I feel a lot of gratification in clients who’ve hit rock bottom and have made positive changes. It’s been uncomfortable, but they’ve moved past trauma, past hurt. They aren’t afraid anymore.”
“They didn’t let that crisis define them.”
VOAWW recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month each May by honoring members of our Behavioral Health team for all they do to keep our neighbors safe and healthy, and to always be there when things fall apart.