November 2018 Hero of the Month:
Over the last two years, Southcentral Foundation has developed Soldier’s Heart, an innovative and comprehensive training program for veterans, law enforcement and first responders with post-traumatic stress (PTS).
Soldier’s Heart aims to:
Reduce the symptoms of PTS and aid in suicide prevention among veterans, law enforcement and first responders.
Address problems related to PTS by bringing the program to organizations for duplications throughout the United States.
PTS Causes Intergenerational Harm
A relatively large proportion of veterans, law enforcement and first responders experience PTS as a result of trauma encountered during their service and careers. The consequences of trauma detrimentally impact just about every aspect of life. Trauma loosens the connections to the person they were before trauma, isolation from friends and family leaves the individual alienated, hopes and dreams may seem out of reach or the challenges of life may feel very difficult or futile, the most fundamental assumptions about the world can be shattered, and spiritual beliefs can seem irretrievable.
The underlying causes of trauma often go unaddressed as people become pre-occupied with depression, anxiety, intrusive memories, sleeplessness, anger, substance abuse, domestic violence, legal issues, and suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, domestic violence, substance abuse, withdrawal, and trauma from other detrimental coping mechanisms are frequently passed to other generations.
Standard treatment can achieve beneficial results for some aspects of PTSD. The best long-term outcome, however, requires a comprehensive approach that addresses all aspects of trauma—psychological, spiritual, social, community, peer, and existential.
Need for Comprehensive PTSD Treatment
Due to the scarcity of providers, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates only 34% of Alaskan’s mental health care needs are met. Furthermore, Alaska has the greatest per capita need for veteran’s services in the nation and first responders’ organizations do not have the capacity to develop comprehensive treatment PTSD programs.
Soldier’s Heart offers a six-day training, Learning Circles, and continued care that are available to all veteran, law enforcement and first responders who have experienced combat and service-related trauma and PTS. Short-term outcomes with participants in the August 2016 pilot have been outstanding. Preliminary research results are showing great promise and participants have commented that the experience has been “life saving.”
We Need Your Support
Over the next three years, we aim to grow our training program to hold more trainings per year. We will develop a training for spouses/partners and adult family members (this is a critical component of reducing intergenerational harm), scale the program in Alaska to serve significantly more people, and, most importantly, we aim to bring Soldier’s Heart methodology to organizations across the Unites States, thereby reducing the number of PTS-related suicides and strengthening families for generations to come.