True Grit

Transforming the unmanageable into her life's calling—and a life-changing gift of hope and help

As a young woman, Chryse Larson Veit lost her job, her husband, and her peace of mind to her drinking. Chryse's parents feared her very life was on the line. And so it was in 1974, when Chryse was in her early 20s, that her father drove her from their hometown of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, to Hazelden in Center City, Minnesota, to begin what would become her life's work.

"The word 'unmanageable' kept popping up as my life was falling apart," Chryse recalls. "Everything was upside down and inside out. I felt like I didn't have anything to live for."

In treatment, Chryse discovered her purpose—and a plan for living.

"The program just made sense to me. I got it. I was able to put everything together for the first time," she explains.

New life unfolds

After completing extended primary treatment at Hazelden, Chryse moved into a halfway house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Before long, she was running the operation. In 1976, Chryse returned to Hazelden's Center City campus, this time as a student in the counselor training program, the forerunner to today's fully accredited Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies.

Hazelden drew Chryse back to campus a third time, as an employee, when she was hired as an addiction counselor.

Early in what would be a remarkable 18-year tenure, Chryse became one of the first women to supervise a men's treatment unit. Throughout her Hazelden career, she played an instrumental role in many important transitions and initiatives, including expanding aftercare programming, launching the wellness committee, enhancing Second Sunday offerings and even securing the relocation of the Claire Harris Library when the the Old Lodge was torn down. Chryse also served on the board of the Institute for Chemical Dependency Professionals of Minnesota for nine years and as vice president for three of those years.

As a clinician, Chryse acknowledges that she gravitated toward helping those patients who struggled most.

"I tend to push a little harder than the average bear," she says with a smile. "I was known for going the extra mile for patients, insisting on measures like having all family members from all parts of the country attend their loved one's family conference in person."

In that particular case, the patient showed his gratitude to Chryse by returning to Hazelden 12 months later to receive his one-year medallion at the place where his recovery started.

Walking farther with patients

In the '80s, Chryse was an early advocate of what research has since confirmed as a key to lasting sobriety: continuing care. The longer patients remain engaged in treatment activities, the better their outcomes and long-term recovery rates. Through her work as the aftercare manager at Hazelden in Center City, which included facilitating groups at Fellowship Club in St. Paul, Chryse was able to walk farther with patients as they transitioned into their new lives.

"Aftercare is where the rubber hits the road in recovery," she says. "Treatment is about learning, and recovery is about doing. For most people, putting that new knowledge into practice takes a lot of help and support."

Chryse and her husband, Vaughn Veit, know the road well. Vaughn completed aftercare at Fellowship Club more than two decades ago. He has sponsored several men throughout his 21 years in the program, always carries an extra copy of the Big Book in his car, and has held a bi-weekly Bible study at the Veit Automotive Museum in Buffalo, Minnesota, for 23 years.

Through a generous gift to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the Veit Automotive Foundation Board is helping to ensure that vital help and support will be there for many more patients, for years to come.

Learn more about the campaign, or make a gift.

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