Monday, October 26, 2009

New grant allows free mental counseling for Oregon National Guard soldiers and their families who face post-deployment stress

Oregon National Guard soldiers and their families can soon take advantage of free family counseling, thanks to a new grant from the National Center on Family Homelessness.

The grant is funded by the Walmart Foundation.

Darcy Woodke, family assistance specialist for the State Family Programs Office, says she has seen the need for soldiers' family services rise in recent years.

"This grant allows us to provide free services to OEF/OIF military families," she said.

The treatment sessions are free to all Oregon National Guard soldiers and their families. Sessions are being offered in the Eugene are over the next few months.

In early October, about 20 mental health providers met in Eugene, Ore., to focus on how to help soldiers and their families deal with post-deployment adjustments such as chronic stress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

"We wouldn't wish someone to get PTSD, but it's one of the most treatable mental health disorders," said Dr. Candice Monson, developer for intervention on the project.

Monson, who is also Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada, said one of the main treatments is to confront the fears head-on.

"Often soldiers suffering from chronic stress or PTSD avoid crowds," she said. "Avoidance exacerbates problems."

Monson encourages anyone who is a significant person in the life of a returning soldier to attend the counseling sessions because they can be agents for change.

"I think our loved ones are a reason for change especially if they understand they can be a person to help them continue to face what they fear," Monson said.

For more information on the free family counseling, contact Darcy Woodke at 541-736-4601, or 503-991-6097.

Story by Kimberly Lippert,
Oregon Military Department Public Affairs Office

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