Veterans often ask: How do I know you will get it and not just be interested in war stories and glorification of what my family has been through?
My name is Rebekah. I served in the Army National Guard for 9 years and was deployed on peace-enforcement missions twice to Kosovo, Serbia. I am not a combat-veteran, which means that your trauma will not trigger my trauma. I am a straight shooter, and I'm very comfortable with military culture, swearing, sarcasm, and shared misery (ie comradery!). I've been tased, pepper sprayed, and been through the gas chamber more times than I can count. I hated fitness tests with the best of them. My last deployment was attached to an infantry batallion, where I learned combatives, crowd control, and room clearing. I know some things. However, I will not put my experience onto you. I definitely will not assume that my training experiences are anything like the chaos of real combat. I will follow where you need to go, and I will help you find the new normal for yourself and your family. Most veterans that I meet downplay their experiences in combat, knowing that others had it worse. I get that. There's a good chance that you aren't dealing with full-blown PTSD. Whether you saw combat or not, deployment experiences can make it really difficult to reconnect with your partner and family. I can help.
Partners of veterans often ask: Can you help me reconnect with my veteran? You may have been struggling with your relationship prior to deployment. Deployments just make the problems you had before harder to navigate. When you're struggling to reintegrate, couples and family therapy is key to that process. Military couples deal with deployment separation by shutting off their emotional connection in order to cope. My spouse and I have personal experience with this challenge. Sometimes it's hard to turn that connection back on. Reunion stress often causes anger outbursts and out of control conflict, followed by walking on eggshells and conflict avoidance. This dynamic prevents you from finding that positive connection again. I am solution-focused, and I will help you and your family reconnect and rebuild a new normal that you want.
How I help veterans and military families:
1. I teach a yearly graduate course for therapists at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota on Contemporary Issues in Marriage & Family Therapy: Couples Therapy with Veterans and their Families. I am committed to helping the counseling profession learn how to better assess and treat military family concerns, so that when veterans and their families finally reach out for help, they get the help that they need.
2. I am a solution-focused therapist, and I know how to help veterans and their partners reach their goals. I specialize in treating trauma, relationship distress, and sexual concerns, which are often interrelated problems after deployment.
3. I am a founding member and facilitator of Camp Gratitude (began in 2011), which is a free, resilience-building vacation for military families. Our mission is to help every family that attends Camp Gratitude relax and have fun while building strength, resilience and connection following deployment. Air Force veteran and therapist James McAuley and I co-developed the strength-based, resilience-building curriculum called STRONG. James and I manage a team of therapist volunteers and facilitate the STRONG program yearly.
STRONG Curriculum Themes:
Tapping into Possibilities
Realizing the New Norm
Overcoming Every Challenge
Never Giving Up
To learn more about camp gratitude, go to campgratitude.org.