Community Action on War Trauma
Originally posted Sun, 03/01/2009 - 00:57 - bumping - standingup
Many communities in the
Many veterans try to deal with war memories by trying to forget, by drinking or taking drugs. Some join veterans’ groups that offer comradeship and service programs. Yet an increasing number of veterans and active duty soldiers have felt nothing eased their anguish and committed suicide. Most veterans find ways to cope with life after war. But too often, when a veteran realizes he or she has a problem and seeks assistance from government agencies, they run into a bureaucratic logjam. Family members and friends often feel they don’t know where to turn to find a helpful program.
This is where community networking and community forums can play a vital role. Non-profit agencies may have counseling programs that are not widely known. Some advocacy groups have trained counselors to help navigate the mental health care system. Government agencies are trying to figure out how to do improved outreach to veterans, active duty troops and National Guard members.
Adding to the problem is pent-up anger. Perhaps most of all, soldiers, veterans and family members need public forums or community gatherings where their concerns can be heard and responded to in supportive ways.
A forum on this issue at
This problem has become even more acute since Congress approved legislation more than a year ago to boost programs that assist veterans with acute post traumatic stress. The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act, signed by President Bush just before Veterans Day 2007, was named after a 22-year-old Army reservist from
One way to help expand this outreach would be to hold community meetings on this issue throughout the country. Donna Bassin, the director of Leave No Soldier, who is a psychologist, suggests showing her film as a discussion starter, which she has done in Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and other locations. In film fund-raisers, Bassin has done showings of the work in progress in friends’ living rooms, followed by candid discussions of these issues by veterans with their neighbors.
“Like a Greek chorus, our veterans express our collective sorrow; they warn of the dangers of ignoring and forgetting. They hold the grief of war for us who will not, and in so doing help us come to grips with its catastrophic impact,” Bassin says of the veterans of
At a showing of the film at Pratt Institute in
For further information:
For PTSD resources: