Helping Veterans Heal & Making Life Long Connections
As the demographics of Veterans shift, the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks (VHSO) has implemented new and innovative programs to better meet the health care needs of the men and women that have served this country.
In September 2011 VHSO launched the Women Veteran’s Trauma Group, a 16-week outpatient therapy group for females that have experienced sexual trauma. The group concludes this week and the benefits and impacts of this new program are already evident. “This group is important because it helps the women to understand that they are not alone, there is help and hope” stated Kim Copps, LCSW, OEF/OIF Mental Health Social Worker Coordinator. The Women’s Trauma Group “teaches them how to live their life better and enables the participants to learn from each other”. Each week the women focus on different topics including the effects of trauma, anger management and coping with strong emotions.
Another important emphasis of the group is art therapy. During the program, all of the participants create a Life Map. “All of the Life Maps created are different and we ask the women to include anything in life that is important to them” explains Angela Heiligenthal, Ph.D., PTSD Clinical Team Coordinator and Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator. “This project reminds them of their major accomplishments and provides and important therapeutic outlet.”
The impact made on the Veterans in this group has been profound. One of the women shared the following: “I agreed with trepidation to commit to coming every other Thursday to this women’s group. I didn’t want to, but I did. And now here I am writing this letter with thoughts of all the wonderful women I have met by being a part of this group, and for the first time in many years I have made a connection. I know I am not alone. I know I am not worthless, for to believe that now would deny the worthiness of these magnificent, strong women that I have had the honor to meet as a result of this group.”
VHSO offers approximately 20 different groups designed for Veterans that have experienced trauma. In addition, the health care system offers comprehensive mental health care for enrolled Veterans. The Women’s Trauma Group is designed for female Veterans that have experienced trauma and the next 16-week series begins in June 2012. For more information on the program and how to enroll, please contact the VHSO Mental Health Clinic at (479) 443-4301, extension 63082, and for more information on military sexual trauma visit the program website.