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John Yang


CARES Victim Specialist

“I learned to love and embrace my battle scars in life. They’re beautiful. It shows my strength and capability to push even when life gets challenging”  

he | him | his

Nyob zoo txhua leej txhua tus! (Hello everyone/everybody in Hmong) 


John identifies as a first-generation Hmong American and identifies as a gay man. John’s family arrived in the United States in 1993 from Laos as refugees and he was the first born in the United States. John grew up in poverty and saw the struggles and disadvantages people in poverty faced on a day to day basis with and saw that there was a lack of resources and lack of knowledge of resources. He also grew up seeing and hearing about domestic violence in his Hmong community toward Hmong women and knew he wanted to create change in his community. John has over 10 years of experience working with individuals experiencing homelessness, alcohol and substance misuse, mental health, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assaults, legal problems, and individuals who identify as LGBTQ2S+. John has passion is in advocacy and his passion came from when he came out as a gay man to his family and friends at the age of 18 and he was uncertain of his support network due to a lack of understanding and acceptance from his family and Hmong community. He knew that he had to become knowledgeable of the resources in Milwaukee so he could make sure that he can receive services to help him. John understands the importance of advocacy and loves learning about new resources so he can ensure his relatives receive services that will support and meet their needs so their can succeed. 


John is the CARES* Victim Specialist at HIR Wellness connecting our relatives to resources and services at HIR Wellness and other, provides therapy, a facilitator for the Layers of Suicide Support (LOSS) group and Emotional Sobriety, and a mentor for HIR Wellness interns. John has reconnected with his Hmong culture within the last few years and understands and sees how culture can be healing. John wants to give back to his Hmong community and the underserved communities and help address gender roles, domestic violence, human trafficking, and break down the stigma of mental health and alcohol and substance misuse.  

John earned his BSW, Bachelors in Social Work, and his MSW, Masters in Social Work with, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, focusing on mental health and substance abuse. John is currently in the process of getting his APSW (Advanced Practice Social Worker) and plans to work toward getting his LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). John is certified in Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF), Suicide Prevention QPR, Mental Health First Aid, Drug Abuse Response Team (DART), Advance Crisis Intervention Training (A-CIT), and Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). John is also trained in Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) and Reiki.

*CARES stands for Community, Advocacy, Resources, Emotional Support

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