Thera-me: Of Gratitude and Service

It’s Tuesday evening in North Jersey and I’m driving to our facility in Paramus, full of curiosity and more than a little anxious. It’s our first VFR Women’s Veterans Support Group and its so damned important.

Yes, we’ve all—our staff at Paramus—been totally into this first part of what will soon become a much bigger program to support women vets in the state. [Click here for more on this important initiative —Editor]

Still, here’s a group of people who had offered everything. Who face all the obstacles male vets do in reconnecting to family, job, civilian life…and the special challenges that come with being a woman in and out of service.

But at the Group my anxiety dissipates. Instead I find I am the recipient of a gift— of being in the presence of some brave, passionate and compassionate women.

But also I’m in the presence of something else, something less comfortable.

We, I think, as a nation, are in danger of letting these individuals down. From them I hear, maybe not in precisely these words: “I was trained and served along with my brother soldiers. I too stand proudly in their ranks. I too search for not only recognition from ‘a grateful nation’ but for basic care and services for injuries, physical and mental, incurred during my service.”

We in the behavioral health community simply have to listen closely to these voices. We have just got to make this right.

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