New Partnership Helps Address Combat Stress Among Military
By Nicole Ferguson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee's largest mental healthcare provider, along with a non-profit social networking site for military personnel, is teaming up to provide new services for members in the armed forces, veterans and family members dealing with combat stress.
The initiative between Centerstone and Not Alone, a non-profit help agency for veterans and members of the Armed Forces, will launch early next year.
Centerstone clinicians are already learning more about military culture in training sessions designed to mold their services for military personnel and their families.
"It's a different population than most mental health centers are used to working with,” said Ken Saefkow, a licensed certified social worker with Centerstone. "They have their own culture, their own language."
Not Alone approached Centerstone last November about designing special programs.
"Both the DOD and the VA have thrown a lot of resources at this, but they can't do it all on their own," said Mike Jones, an Army veteran who served with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Jones served two tours of duties in Iraq and Afghanistan before getting out of the service a few years ago. He's a partner with Not Alone.
“I am a soldier that needed help. I got help, and now we're helping others get help. We didn't have the expertise to actually provide the clinical background and the therapists and the social workers to actually treat people,” said Jones.
He said the key to opening up about combat stress is realizing you're not alone, thus the basis for the web site NotAlone.com, which takes a page out the book from another generation of servicemen and women.
"There were literally so many people who served in World War II, that all your neighbors served - the guy across the street served," said Jones. "If you had problems with it, you would know who all the other guys who had issues were, and they'd all get together literally on Saturday night on the porch and talk about it."
The new services will launch in 2010.
"This is, if anything, maybe a little bit too late," said Saefkow, "I mean of course [there's awareness] with the number of suicides we've had at Fort Campbell, but there isn't enough being done in the sense. In that respect, it is the right time for Centerstone to get involved."
Counselors at Centerstone can be reached by calling 1-888-291-4357. Also free online counseling is available at www.notalone.com.