Atlanta, GA – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is generally classified as an anxiety disorder.
But for war veterans, it can also be a disorder of the heart.
“War injures the soul, distorts the heart, confuses the mind, ruins the identity.”
Psychotherapist and author Edward Tick, has been working with war veterans and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for nearly three decades.
“Every part of us is distressed and afflicted and tainted by the war experience and every part of us needs to be tended in order for our veterans to come home and our society to be safe and healthy.”
Tick believes that when we understand PTSD as an identity disorder and soul wound, we can really begin to understand the ways to heal it.
“Many cultures, in all times and places, have known of this wound, and they have had far more complex and sophisticated, spiritually and communally based means for bringing their warriors home and healing these wounds.”
When our warriors come home, they tend to feel more of a disconnect than a spiritual homecoming.
This concept touched a nerve with psychotherapist Stacie Smith.
“if you think about the person that left and the person who came back, it's completely different so they should have a way to cleanse their being before they come back to their family.”
Smith and colleague Kaye Coker started Veterans Heart Georgia a year ago.
“We're a grassroots community dedicated to the healing for our veterans and their families and our communities.”
Still evolving, Veterans Heart is a regional network of healing professionals, veterans and ordinary citizens – offering free outreach services, resources, and education.
They're still trying to get the word out and invite anyone to attend workshops and events -to help understand PTSD as a soul wound- and how to respond to the needs of people returning from combat.
And some volunteers, like Vietnam Vet Bob Cagle, will go to you- if necessary.
“because I've been in the same shape so many veterans are in and I really want to try to help get them out of it. PTSD is just horrible. it's a terrible thing to live with and you're by yourself.”
It took Cagle 37 years , 2 marriages, seven therapists before he met Ed Tick and finally started talking.. which led to healing.
“This indeed is a wounding of the soul, the spirit, the heart. Whatever the inner depths of yourself you call. I think the spirituality- that the healing arm of vhg is the key.And listening.”
Becoming a better listener is why 40 year old Jamie Adkins- a uso volunteer in Atlanta- attended a recent Veteran's Heart seminar.
Everyone has a story to tell, says Adkins. And the techniques she learned have helped her be more present and mindful.
“I'm not going to analyze them. I'm just going to be there for them. / But I can, on a personal level, is say thank you, I'm here for you, so if you need anything or I can help you, let me know. That's my role as a member of the community as well.”
There are numerous approaches today for treating PTSD. By addressing the emotional and spiritual needs of veterans and their families, Veterans Heart Georgia hopes to take treatment a step further, healing not only the veteran, but the community at large.
For wabe news,
I'm susan Mittleman
To find out more about Veterans Heart Georgia, go to veteransheartgeorgia.org .
or log on to our website, WABE.org.