The nonprofit PAIRS Foundation will offer a series of free 90-minute online classes this month to help returning combat veterans and family members impacted by PTSD. “Early intervention through effective education and skills training is critical for combat veterans and family members,” said Seth Eisenberg, President and CEO of PAIRS Foundation.
An estimated one in five U.S. veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is reported to have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Eisenberg said. Symptoms include flashbacks and nightmares that may cause memory and attention problems, anxiety, irritability, depression, insomnia, isolation and withdrawal. PTSD also impacts many others; an estimated quarter of a million Americans will develop PTSD at some point in their lives after a terrifying experience, from car accidents to hurricanes, abuse, rape and other traumatic events.
Eisenberg delivered a plenary address at the “Spiritual Trauma of War” conference sponsored by the Veterans Administration in Chicago this month and a workshop for VA professionals on educational approaches to help couples impacted by combat deployment improve communication, emotional understanding, and strengthen marriages.
PAIRS Foundation is actively collaborating with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center and other military and VA facilities nationwide to help active duty, reserve, guard, veterans and family members impacted by combat deployment.
“We’re honored that our collaboration with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center was recently selected as a ‘Best Practice’ by the Veterans Administration,” Eisenberg said.
Chaplain Ron Craddock, Chief of Chaplain Services at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, said the program is making a difference. “PAIRS is changing the lives of returning combat veterans and their spouses,” he said.
“Combat deployment can significantly impact couple relationships,” said Eisenberg. “The added impact of PTSD and TBI on many returning veterans requires urgent attention.”
Eisenberg cited research conducted on a pilot group at Charlie Norwood that showed a 25 percent increase in the number of couples experiencing marital distress following deployment. “Early, effective intervention is needed to reduce the impact on these couples and their children,” Eisenberg said, “Curriculum-based educational programs founded on emotional literacy can make an immediate difference for these soldiers and their families,” Eisenberg said.
“Following a weekend PAIRS retreat for returning combat veterans and spouses,” Eisenberg said, “the percentage of couples able to effectively communicate with each other increased from 26 to 79 percent.”
Laurie Ott of the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project in Augusta, GA was one of the program sponsors. “PAIRS is exactly what we were looking for in terms of real relationship skills for combat-returned and wounded warriors and their spouses,” she said. “Our survey before and after PAIRS shows a profound impact on both couples’ perception of their relationship and hope for the future … helping our heroes and their families reconnect after combat, and giving them the skills to improve their relationships and communication.”
PAIRS on the Code Red! radio show talking about our upcoming free classes to help Combat Veterans Impacted by PTSD: http://bit.ly/4jMvoR