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New Support Group Available for Iraq War Veterans and Their Families

Iraq War Veterans and their families now have access to a free service aimed at helping soldiers deal with the many issues they face when they return from war. Michele Skalicky has more.

Returning home from a long absence should be a happy time for the soldiers who've been away fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But often they're dealing with a number of issues including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And it's often not any easier for their families.

A new support group is designed to help those who are adjusting after war. Theresa Johnson, a licensed professional counselor, explains why she decided to organize the group.

"I've listened to the new all the time, and everyday there's something about how in need they are, and I have those skills that I think can benefit them, and so I just want to put them to use."

According to Johnson, men and women who return from war deal with a variety of issues including financial, emotional and physical, how to fit back into their family and how to cope with the devastation they witnessed.

But they're not the only ones struggling to adjust. She says their families are dealing with difficult issues, too.

"Their families are suffering just as much as they are, perhaps, and maybe in some ways more because they feel maybe less powerful and less able to do something about the situation. They're not in it quite directly except they're very much affected, and so I think they especially need some help."

Support groups, she says, can help by providing an outlet for emotions. They allow people to share their experiences with others are who facing similar struggles.

"You can talk and open up and just discuss the issues you're facing and be with other people like you who understand and have people caring about you in ways that you hadn't realized that they could. It's always very helpful and very nurturing."

Johnson wishes a support group would have been available for her and her family years ago when her father returned from WWII.

"He came back, and the help really wasn't very available. He was in and out of Mininger Clinic and had other kinds of treatment, but it really wasn't the kind that he needed, and our family had none, and we could have really, really used it."

The Support Group for Iraq War veterans and their families meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month at the Library Station. It's a free service. For more information, the contact number is 234-0681.

For KSMU News, I'm Michele Skalicky.