Support group just for Women
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
Combat veterans–men and women–meet each week in Fredericksburg to talk to a peer specialist with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program.
In an ongoing effort to expand its offerings here, the program has started a support group just for women.
Women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer the same types of problems–traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder–as men, so the issues are the same.
But women may find it easier to talk, and to seek help, in a group of only women, officials say. The group held its first monthly meeting last week.
Three women attended, “and that was before we started promoting it,” said Michelle Wagaman, spokeswoman for the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board.
Camilla Schwoebel, regional director of the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, sat in on the first meeting.”I think it went very well. When you start something new, you want to make sure you’re focusing in the right area,” Schwoebel said.
“The women felt that it was definitely needed, and at the same time, it won’t take away from the regular combat support group.”
While the men and women share problems such as stress and employment issues, “There are ways in which women cope differently, or process trauma differently,” she said.
One issue that came up: “A woman who is injured has different feelings about her body than a man who was injured.” Society at large, Schwoebel added, may have a different view of those injuries.
“The other big thing is how the woman views herself.”
Women make up about 20 percent of the U.S. armed forces.
Peer Specialist Claude Boushey, who runs the weekly combat support group at Fredericksburg Baptist Church, said one of the women veterans suggested a separate group.
“She said it would be nice if there were a female support group,” Boushey said. Eight women expressed interest.
There are other women-only support groups, Boushey said. For example, the Veterans Administration has one for inpatients in Salem.
The National Guard has one in Jackson, Miss.
“The thing we try to do is connect with the veteran. Once we do, they begin to trust you and find out about the services here,” Boushey said.
The Wounded Warrior Program helps veterans and their families with any stress-related problem, as well as traumatic brain injuries resulting from combat.
Created by the General Assembly in 2008, it is funded by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and administered locally by the community services board.
The program has served about 200 veterans to date, and is expanding its services to families, with a monthly family support group headed up by a family support specialist.
Veterans’ families often need help understanding combat-related issues and how to deal with them.
The family support group meets monthly at Calvary Chapel the White Oak area of Stafford County.
And coming up next month is a couples retreat.
“Deployments can take a significant toll on a relationship, and it’s important for couples to relearn how to work together successfully,” Schwoebel said in a press release.
Additional retreats are being planned throughout the state.
The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program helps veterans and their families with any stress-related problem, as well as traumatic brain injuries resulting from combat. Created by the Virginia General Assembly in 2008, the program is funded by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and administered locally by the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board.
Services include peer support groups, marriage counseling, family and child counseling, substance-abuse counseling, and identification and treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The combat support group, open to all veterans as well as civilian contractors who have served in combat zones, meets on Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m. at Fredericksburg Baptist Church. For more information, contact Claude Boushey, peer specialist, at 540/842-2481 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mahlon Johnson, peer specialist, at 540-273-4733 or email@example.com.
The combat support group for women meets on the first Tuesday of the month, 6-8 p.m. at Fredericksburg Baptist Church. For more information, contact Camilla Schwoebel at 272-3223, ext. 3085, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The family support group meets from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the last Monday of the month at Calvary Chapel, 1103 Potomac Ave., off State Route 218 in Stafford County. Contact Tammy Olson-Harper, family support specialist, at 540 273-4733 or email@example.com.
A couples retreat will be held Oct. 14-16 at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center. The retreat was originally scheduled for August but was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.Visit the Events page for more information about support groups in your area.