New program encourages vets to open up about wartime experiences

October 17, 2014 by  

St. Josephs College in Patchogue recently played host to a new program designed to help veterans and the general public.

The new initiative brings together the veterans and people from the surrounding communities. The vets share stories about their time in Afghanistan and Iraq and the challenges they faced. They speak of the difficulty of being separated from their friends and families for long periods of time, their fear of being critically injured or even killed, and their moral confusion over having to take someone else’s life during combat.

The civilians who take part discuss how they may have felt guilty for staying behind while others went to war and also the issue of having someone they care about not being able to open up about their experiences while deployed.

The reasoning behind the program is to help the former military personnel deal with their sense of alienation from the rest of society, which can make it harder for them to return to civilian life. It is hoped that by talking with each other, there will be an increased sense of understanding and empathy.

The program is a Mental Health Association of New York initiative, and it receives funding from the Long Island Community Foundation.

A program like this can make a difference in the long-term mental health of combat veterans. Brochure printers can help by creating promotional materials that let them know that they can ask for help, and also to encourage them to take part.