Treatment of individuals and families affected by military experience requires a special set of sensitivities. The military provides an environment outside mainstream culture. Combat dramatically reduces the similarities to civilian life. During military involvement the veteran may have been at life-time peak of responsibilities with valuable resources and life and death situations.
Current combat settings have required most veterans and their families to survive multiple deployments. Families with children are separated during important developmental stages. The combatants return home to partners who have learned to take on increased responsibility for managing home and family. The veteran can begin to feel like a stranger and find themselves withdrawing and isolating from family and friends. Each military and combat setting is unique as is the environment here at home. The family and the veteran have unique, pre-existing coping strategies for dealing with change. Readjustment work needs to pay attention to who is readjusting to what.
Our job, as mental health workers, is to provide knowledgeable arenas for these people to explore the changing connections to one another. The veteran living alone may believe it is easier to never be understood again. The family member may begin to isolate. Anxiety, depression and panic attacks are the issues they face most often. Of course, even bigger problems will ensue when anger issues and/or chemical dependence problems develop.
Beginning trainings to help you treat veterans and family members are provided by the Returning Veteran Project as well as consultation groups and peer support are also provided for our volunteers. Our advanced and state of the art trainings help push your skills to take advantage of your unique approach to psychotherapy. We have training relations with some of the most knowledgeable presenters in the world, as well as experts from the local community and the Portland/Vancouver VA Medical Centers.
The Returning Veteran Project would love to have you on our team of mental health and somatic providers committed to our mission: To provide free health and wellness services to post-9/11 war zone veterans, service members and their families in our Oregon and Southwest Washington communities.
For more information please visit us at returningveterans.org.
Bill Maier, LCSW serves on the Board of Directors of the Returning Veterans Project and maintains a client-centered, developmentally informed private practice. He formerly created and supervised a program for the treatment of PTSD for the five tribes of the North Olympic Peninsula.