“Veterans.” Until a couple of years ago, I probably only thought about that word in the context that it was a semi-holiday that showed up on the calendar every November 11.
But a couple of things have changed that. First of all, in 2012, our son enlisted in the army. He is very fortunate because unlike soldiers who are still being sent to Afghanistan, he is currently assigned to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey where he is studying Korean.
So now, when I think of the soldiers in their digital camouflage ACU’s marching in the Veterans Day Parade, I have a very personal connection with active duty military because my son is one of them. It always makes me swallow hard with the pride I feel for them and him.
Another reason that veterans aren’t just a one-day-a-year topic in our household is because Steve – who is a Vietnam era veteran – has become very involved in networking with veterans organizations to help launch a charitable foundation established by Dr. Peter Bernstein to provide holistic programs to treat severe PTSD in returning Afghanistan and Iraq vets. Dr. Bernstein says that research estimates that 15-20% of these veterans have psychological wounds although he suspects that nearly every soldier who returns from war carries some trace of residual trauma.
Steve saw the effects of PTSD first-hand growing up; his father was a disabled WWII veteran who showed the effects of trauma – depression and alcoholism – throughout his life. Steve was a surgical tech and an emergency room medic in Germany from 1965-67 and he also recognizes in himself symptoms of trauma that resulted from his childhood environment and his military service.
But he has also experienced the healing that can come from opening up about traumatic experiences. For that reason, he and the Bernstein Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy have partnered with John Crowley at Aqus to create the Resilience Café – a public forum to discuss personal experiences with trauma and the trauma witnessed in relatives and other loved ones.
While PTSD is a term that is most commonly associated with veterans and military personnel, you don’t have to have served in combat to have suffered a trauma. It could be from an accident, death of a loved one, financial hardship, natural disasters, violence…the list goes on.
I think Steve said it best, “Time doesn’t heal all wounds.” So how do you start the healing process? Come to the Resilience Café forum held at Aqus, Second and H Street, at 7p.m. on Monday, November 11 and share your thoughts.