An upcoming workshop is designed help church leaders recognize the trauma continuum experienced by military veterans.
The three-hour training program, called “The Invisible Wounds of War: Developing Veteran Friendly Congregations,” will be held March 15 at the Fraser Counseling Center in Hinesville. Peter McCall, executive director of Care for the Troops, and Dr. Alan Baroody, executive director of the center, will lead the program.
“The trauma continuum goes from acute stress reactions to combat and operational stress to post-traumatic stress disorder,” Baroody said. “Acute stress can produce biological and emotional changes in a person that can affect others. Combat and operational stress is a result of the normal stresses of war, but it is usually transitory. Post-traumatic stress is typically when symptoms don’t go away within a month or so.”
Both men said that PTSD often is over-diagnosed and that most problems associated with stress are treatable if warning signs are recognized by those closest to the person suffering from stress.
McCall said key warning signs of a stress problem are hyper-vigilance and nervousness around groups of people. Both men say alcohol and drug abuse is a common symptom of stress. Taking unnecessary risks or carrying “generalized anger for no apparent cause” also are warning signs.
“All these symptoms are things we can help with counseling and therapy,” Baroody said. “What we want to do in this workshop is show congregations how they can best minister to veterans and their families. We’ll show them ways they can be more welcoming to returning veterans, and how they can be more understanding and supportive, now that they have an idea what veterans have been through.”
Baroody said veterans need to be allowed to tell and re-tell their stories. Many veterans think no one else can understand them but other veterans, he said, which causes some to feel a closer bond to their battle buddies than their spouses, parents or children.
“We’re going to talk about the trauma and its impact on their spirituality,” Baroody said. “It’s important to be aware of what they’ve experienced in order to be able to help them.”
For more information about the workshop, call 369-7777.