Peer Specialist for Veterans

Certificate in Peer Specialist for Veterans
Accepted students receive full funding for tuition.

What is Vet2Peer?

Vet2Peer is a training and job placement program designed especially for military veterans who want to support their peers as they transition from military to civilian life.

Participants will draw on their military values - Loyalty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Devotion to Duty, Personal Courage – throughout the program and into their roles as Peer Specialists. They will reflect on their personal struggles and recovery as they acquire the knowledge, resources, and tools necessary to help their brothers and sisters dealing with mental health conditions or other life challenges.

Graduates of the program earn a Peer Specialist for Veterans Certificate and are prepared to fill peer roles in veteran-serving organizations, government agencies, community health clinics, recovery centers, and housing and homeless service providers.

Support is an integral part of the program and includes career counseling, job placement services and post-program support for six (6) months.

Why is this program important?

Adjusting to civilian life after the military can be a difficult transition, and too often it is accompanied by health challenges, mental health issues, employment concerns and more. Unless you “have been there,” it is often hard to understand these issues. As the home to the largest concentration of vets in the U.S., the need for Peer Specialists in Los Angeles County is high and increasing.



    August 20 - December 17, 2022 – class meets in person at the Tierney Center in Tustin, CA (Orange Co.) on Saturdays from 10AM-3PM (PST). CLASS IN SESSION

    If the grant funding the Vet2Peer program is renewed, classes will begin again in Summer 2023. 


    Thank you for your interest in Vet2Peer.



  • Throughout the course, there will be an emphasis on:

    • Crisis Management
    • Suicide Prevention
    • Recovery Planning
    • Targeted Case Management
    • Triage

    Topics to be covered include: 

    • Introduction to Peer Veterans Services
    • Transitioning to Civilian Life
    • Trauma-Informed Care
    • Cultural Competency
    • Recovery, Stages of Change, and Wellness Planning
    • Motivational Interviewing and Effective Listening Techniques
    • Law and Ethics
    • Case Management 101
    • Triage
    • Documentation & Linkage
    • Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention
    • Conflict Resolution
  • Classes are facilitated by experts trained in their field.


    Toni White, MS, LCSW

    Since 2007, Toni has worked with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs providing oversight and monitoring of Transitional Housing Programs for homeless veterans who are at risk and have complicated histories.  Skilled at providing case management, crisis intervention and coordinating VA services, she is recognized as a skilled clinician who connects compassionately with people – even while exuding a sense of authority.  Toni has managed difficult programs with ease and successful outcomes.  Her skills include strategic planning, guiding case managers, and veterans to the road to success.  Prior to working at the VA, Toni worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker at both the Los Angeles County of Mental Health and in a private hospital setting.  Toni holds certificates in Alcohol and Drug Counseling and in Domestic Violence.  Since 2013, Toni has been a part time instructor in the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate program at Loyola Marymount University. 


    Kevin Benitez, MSW, CPSS

    Kevin has over 18 years of experience working with Veterans in a variety of capacities. After graduating with his Master’s Degree in Social Work with a Specialization in Military Veterans and Families, Kevin began his career as the Program Manager for the Battle Buddy Bridge Program at Volunteers of America Los Angeles, which was a veteran peer to peer program in Orange County. Kevin provided oversight for the daily operation of the program as well as clinical supervision for all of the Peer Support Specialists and MSW interns. Kevin always had an affinity for student veterans and decided to move on to a position as a Care Coordinator at the University of Southern California where he provided case management for veterans and their families. After his time at USC Kevin decided to pursue a career in education where he became Adjunct Faculty at Long Beach City College where he worked as a Veterans Counselor for the Veterans Resource Center. During his time at Long Beach City College, Kevin taught classes in Career Exploration, and Orientation to College Success as well as providing academic counseling for student veterans and their families. Kevin also provided resource navigation where he guided student veterans and their families through the resource “maze” in Los Angeles and Orange County. Currently, Kevin is Full Time Tenure Track Faculty at Santa Monica College where he is the Program Leader for the Veterans Resource Center. Kevin provides oversight to the program as well as managing grants, coordinating services, providing military culture training for faculty and staff, managing daily operations, providing clinical supervision to Social Work interns, and provides Counseling for student veterans and their families. His skills include strategic planning, navigating the resource “maze”, training, and providing peer support to his sisters and brothers in arms. Kevin is a Combat Veteran who served in the United States Army from 2000 – 2005. He was deployed to the Pentagon, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kuwait, and Iraq and truly understands the difficulties faced by veterans first hand. Kevin is passionate about helping veterans and is excited at the opportunity to continue serving Veterans at Loyola Marymount University. Kevin spends his free time playing Soccer, Fantasy Football, and hanging out with his wife Elizabeth and his Service Dog Smoky.

  • Vet2Peer is open to veterans and those closely associated with veterans who are successfully dealing with personal or familial lived experience with mental or behavioral health issues. Participants must be interested in working in a peer personnel position as a paid employee or unpaid volunteer in the Public Mental Health System (PMHS). 

    The Vet2Peer program is fully-funded by a grant from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Students accepted into the program will have no out-of-pocket costs for tuition and class materials.

    Click here to apply: Vet2Peer Application

    To request a hard copy of the application, email or call 310-338-5813.



    For more information about the Vet2Peer program, please contact:

    Elizabeth Tobias at 310-338-5813 or



    Vet2Peer is a collaborative effort between Loyola Marymount University (LMU), U.S.VETS and its staff of veterans, as well as the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Vet2Peer is made possible thanks to a grant from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).

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