With veteran’s day approaching in about two weeks, I think it is important to share some of the things counselors and counselors in training can do in preparation of working with veterans/ veteran families currently or in the near future who may cope with symptoms of PTSD, depression or anxiety; related to their military experience or transitioning from a military culture to civilian life. I do not speak for all veterans, but as a veteran myself I understand the difficulty that one may face transitioning out of the military to civilian life. For some veterans, the transition can be a lonely one, where one can feel “No one understands me.” For counselors or future counselors working with veterans, it is important to understand that veterans may view their environment in a different way pre-enlistment. Social and Cultural foundations are typically a required course for counselors to complete their counseling degree, however throughout my counseling program working with veterans wasn’t taught as heavily as other cultural practices in counseling. But just like the importance of learning cultural norms in different ethic and racial groups, the same applies for the military culture. Learning the practices, language, rank structure and effects of being in a combat zone are all important for understanding a veteran/ veteran families that you may work with throughout your counseling experience.
I view counseling as art in many ways because it provides different opportunities for clients to expressive themselves (writing, music, painting, drawing, dance movement, etc.). There is a movie entitled, “Thank you for your service”, based on a non fiction story written by David Finkel. This movie shares the stigma and struggles around mental health symptoms that veterans and military servicemen often face. While this movie does not represent EVERY veteran, it can educate civilians, counselors, educator, etc. on what a veteran may experience and how they could better serve our military population in the social service aspect. Something to check out!