Our workshops consist of familiarization with typical symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and COS (Combat Operational Stress), however in addition to examining the symptoms, we look into the signs along the trail and how these symptoms manifest in our men and women in uniform. PTSD from serving in the military has its own presentation, and the behaviors associated with these reactions are often times an extension of the survival skills they implemented while serving in our military. This aspect offers a unique insight into the lives of our military personnel as they attempt to transition from their deployments.
Regardless of the branch of service and the duties performed many of the issues that are facing our service members are similar to those in the other branches as well. Yes, the particular arena in which the duties are performed may be unique to each branch of service, but the aftermath of the emotional wounds transcend these labels and does not discriminate. Everyone is changed in some way.
Dr. Cantrell has worked with men and women in uniform for nearly twenty years with a particular focus upon the aftermath of deployments and the emotional burdens they carry home with them. The effects on the families and loved ones can result in the deterioration of their lives if left untreated.
Our warriors will be returning to their bases and back into their lives with their families and loved ones following deployment, and this is where the various issues arise. The military is referring to the stress symptoms of these deployments as Combat Operational Stress (COS), Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Basically these terms are used to describe the cluster of effects associated with their duties while serving in the military.
Considering the fact that the studies show 33% of our warriors return with PTSD symptoms may be a lower number due to the stigmas associated with seeking care. It is true that all of our men and women in uniform are going to be changed by their experience, and with this change comes positive and some not so positive aspects of change. Our workshops offer the opportunity to reexamine the challenges that come along with serving in a warzone.
With Dr. Cantrell’s level of expertise in this field, the books she has written and the thousands of warriors she has personally treated, along with the hundreds of workshops she has conducted, she is able to speak to these issues from most perspectives with a great deal of confidence.
Our workshops are very interactive and discussion oriented. Each workshop includes interactions between the participants and Dr. Cantrell. Questions and Answers during the presentation is standard fare. Each workshop is unique to the participants who attend.
The following are brief descriptions of the Workshops that Hearts Toward Home International provides:
Military Personnel (Active Duty, Returning Warriors & Veterans)
This workshop is a structured awareness course, which reveals various ways warriors and their loved ones change during military separation. The course will consist of familiarization with typical and atypical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Combat Operational Stress. PTSD from serving in the military has its own presentation, and the behaviors associated with these reactions are often times an extension of the survival skills that are implemented while serving in the military. Other important topics include understanding the signs and symptoms of Combat Operational Stress (COS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and effectively coping with anger issues, substance abuse, sleep disturbances, relational issues, and other physical and emotional wounds.
Providers (Clinicians & Military Leaders)
Whether it is a military leader or FRG leader or even clinician, one must learn to recognize the signs of concern, not only in their service member but also within their cohort be that those on the home front or those in positions of leadership. We address their position of leading their men and women in and out of battle, setting the stage for success and how to also implement a very strong self care regime so that they too can maintain the pace in order to stay healthy themselves. We must also address the issues that come along with being a partner on the home front, which is an area that is often not fully explored. This will be examined and discussed extensively and there will be actual accounts of how these issues are acknowledged and dealt with. We also examine how the military community can support and encourage a pro-active stance when it comes to dealing with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or even Minor Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI). Providers or clinicians are the ones who are in the trenches with our military members, and they can be effected by hearing the stories and dealing with the stressors. It is vital that they recognize the signs of compassion fatigue and vicarious aspects of PTSD.
Family Members/Couples (Spouses, Children & Loved Ones)
When speaking to the loved ones, We are dealing with educating them on the subtle nuances of adjustment and how to approach their military member, how to deal with the children and the issues they are presenting. We fully discuss support systems and how to maintain resiliency during the separations. The better educated about these adjustment issues, the more normalization takes place, and the better the warrior feels about the hope he or she has of reintegrating into a system that offers a sanctuary of compassion, understanding and hope, and the more supported the loved ones feel. This workshop is a structured awareness of how both the families and the service person have changed during these deployments. We explore why and how these changes take place and how to gain a better understanding of effective coping and resiliency.
First Responders (Law Enforcement, Medics, Nurses & Doctors)
This workshop will help first responders understand the implications of the deployments and how to approach in a manner which defuses a situation, rather than ignite escalation. We will discuss the issues surrounding veterans, active duty military and/or their family members, trauma survivors, and citizens. Learn how mood and thought disorders can affect these interactions. This workshop will cover a variety of scenarios and interactions with people who may be reacting on adrenaline rather than responding with solid, sound decision making.
Looking at the implications of the type of work we do gives us insight, by examining the long term affects of past trauma, caring about and working to enhance and improve the lives of others. Being caretakers we often times do not place the oxygen mask on ourselves first before giving it others, which leads to burnout and compassion fatigue. Within our area of expertise (military and law enforcement trauma) there are the stigmas, which prevent those who are the first responders and ones in the field from taking care of themselves. This session will look at the signs for concern, how to best address these issues, and break through the stigmas, which are so detrimental to moving forward.
We will be using a measure, which they will be able to take with them to measure their level of Compassion Fatigue etc. This tool is used to assess where they are on a continuum and to give them some insight into how they can best intervene to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit.
This workshop has been given to the military at various bases, to Chaplain groups in Law Enforcement and the Military. It has also been presented in part and parcel to mental health providers in various settings.
In this workshop we work with educational systems; both educators and students in preparing for the influx of our troops who will have served and may have some challenges with being in an academic environment. It is important to normalize these experiences, generate ideas of how to honor our warriors and support their loves ones. We discuss ways to educate fellow students and instructors about the challenges facing our military and what would be most helpful to help our service members to be successful as they work toward earning their degrees and bettering their future.
All of my workshops involve participation, where their concerns will be addressed on the spot and where rich discussions take place. The information presented will be from my own experience as a mental health provider, from those with whom I have worked for nearly twenty years, from those in the room who share from their hearts and from current research.
References are available upon request.