November 12, 2008
THE MENTAL HEALTH
IMPLICATIONS OF WAR
On Nov. 17, Clark College will welcome
Dr. James Sardo of the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center
as part of the college's "Mental Health Mondays" series
VANCOUVER, Wash. – As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office, the United States is engaged in conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After serving their countries and after the initial joy of returning home, soldiers and their families may struggle to resume their lives together. The strain of the transition from military to civilian life affects not only the soldier but their spouse, family and friends.
Dr. James Sardo of the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center will speak about the mental health implications of war on Monday, Nov. 17 as part of Clark College’s “Mental Health Mondays” series.
The session will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Gaiser Student Center. Clark College’s main campus is located at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.
The noontime session is open to the public but is especially recommended for family members and friends of those serving in the Armed Forces or returning to the U.S. from active duty.
Dr. James Sardo is Program Manager and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Specialist for the Substance Abuse Treatment Program (SATP) and Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at OHSU. He was the speaker at the college’s first “Mental Health Monday” event held in April 2007.
The “Mental Health Mondays” sessions are sponsored by the Clark College Counseling Center. For additional information, call 360-992-2902.
Veterans in Washington state
The following statistics were provided during a presentation on “Best Practices for Improving Access and Support for Veterans on Campus” made at Green River Community College on Oct. 3, 2008:
Veterans in Washington state
Veterans in Washington state: 643,302 (38,691 in Clark County)
Veterans families (estimated): 1,029,283
Total veterans and their families: 1,672,585
Military personnel and families in Washington State
Active duty military: 32,398
Reserve and National Guard: 31,105
Military families: 104,984 (estimated)
Total military personnel and families: 170,599
Military/veterans and family members in Washington state
Total personnel and families: 170,599
Veterans and their families: 1,672,585
Total: 1,843,184 (28.8% of the state’s population)
Counseling issues and support for veterans
Professor and licensed mental health counselor Judy VanPatten, who established the “Mental Health Mondays” discussion series at Clark College, notes: “Military personnel in war zones often have serious reactions to the trauma they experience which may interfere with their ability to be emotionally close. Reactions that were adaptive in war zones may be viewed as symptoms that interfere with relationships when they come home. It is difficult to talk about traumatic experiences. Returning vets may experience nightmares and difficulty sleeping, unwanted and distressing memories, anxiety and panic, irritability and anger, emotional numbing or loss of interest in activities or people and may turn to alcohol or drug use to cope with stress reactions. Families and friends are usually the most important source of support for the returning vet. When family members feel alienated or hurt they often need support as well.”
VanPatten adds, “Mental health professionals in community clinics, the VA Medical Centers, the Vets Center and the Returning Vets Resource Project N.W. offer hope and help for the vet and for family members. Coping is easier with support from caring friends, family, and community groups.”