The American Red Cross is hosting free workshops dedicated to helping military service men and women transition to civilian life.
Through the organization’s Reconnections program, licensed and specially-trained mental health professionals lead the workshops, which cover a number of topics including: Communicating Clearly, Exploring Stress and Trauma, Identifying Depression, Relating to Children and Working Through Anger.
“Deployments are a fact of life in the military. Whether a service member’s absence is due to a training exercise, sea duty, combat, or unaccompanied duty in a remote location, separation and reunification pose unique opportunities as well as challenges for all family members,” said Lauren Pearse, coordinator of the Georgia Red Cross’s Service of the Armed Forces and Quality Assurance program. “The American Red Cross’s series of workshops were created to assist all military families in managing the family’s readjustment to the service member’s return.”
Georgia has about 770,000 veterans, officials say. While places such as the Atlanta VA Medical Center are providing more than 450,000 of those veterans with medical health care, the Red Cross is looking to fill the void between veterans and families beyond just medications and prescriptions from doctors.
Pearse says the Reconnections program was created at the end of 2011 and officially kicked off in the beginning of 2012. Workshops are free to military members and their families and occur in a supportive and confidential environment.
Military spouse Amy Creech, who is married to Sgt. First Class Ryan Creech and has two children, Dillon and Mitchell, says the workshops are critical to families because the transition after deployment isn’t always easy.
“The reconnection workshops are really here to help you,” said Creech. “They are open to active soldiers, veterans and their families, including spouses, parents, siblings and significant others.”
Experts say some of the challenges facing soldiers and their families include: readjusting to partners who assumed new roles during the separation; engaging children who have matured and may resent additional oversight; re-establishing bonds with their spouse and children; and managing long-term health problems that can be present after deployment, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.