State's rural nature creates support challenges for returning soldiers
04/14/06 12:00AM By Steve Zind
(Host) The head of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder told a gathering of Vermont therapists today that the state's rural nature creates challenges for providing services to returning soldiers.
Doctor Matthew Friedman also says the fact that most Vermont soldiers come back from the war to live in their communities, and not on military bases like full time soldiers, presents an added challenge.
(Friedman) "With Guard and Reservists, particularly in a rural area, there may not be another family within ten miles that's going through that. So the opportunity for social support has to be constructed. It's not there. So I think that the more families can know what to expect, of themselves as well as the returnee, can know where to go for help those are some of the major things."
(Host) Friedman says the center has been working with the Vermont National Guard to help families learn how to identify and deal with post traumatic stress and the other effects of combat duty.
He also says effectively helping soldiers also requires a community-wide effort.
(Friendman) "If there's a kid who comes to the attention of a school counselor, who's been an A' student and all of a sudden her grades have fallen, one of the first questions the counselor ought to ask is, do you have a parent who has been in the war?' I don't think that's something our counselors think about off the top of their head, but it would be a good thing for them to put on their checklist and put near the top."
(Host) Friedman says most returning soldiers will experience some re-entry problems, but many will make the adjustment without too much difficulty.
He says studies show that therapy has been effective in treating combat related disorders.
The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is located at the Veterans Administration Hospital in White River Junction.