Psychoanalysts to Launch Soldiers and Veterans Initiative on
Veterans' Day to Address Growing Mental Health Crisis
New York - November 11, 2008 - The American Psychoanalytic Association
(APsaA) today announces the launch of the Soldiers and Veterans Initiative (SVI) a comprehensive program designed to address the growing mental health crisis in America due to military deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. An initiative of APsaA President Prudence Gourguechon, M.D., the SVI emphasizes two core contributions that psychoanalysts can make in the context of this crisis:1) a focus on the impact of war on families and children and
2) a focus on the need for long-term treatment and/or long-term access to treatment for mental illness/injury caused by war.
In a multi-faceted approach, APsaA and related organizations are offering many professional education opportunities and public outreach programs across the nation through the SVI. The Strategic Outreach for All Reservists (SOFAR) has support groups, free treatment, and education programs in New England, New York, Michigan, and Florida. The Soldier's Project is a community outreach program providing free treatment, supervision, and educational programs to those affected by trauma offered by volunteers in Southern California, New York City, Chicago, and Seattle. The Jenny Waelder Hall Consultation and Training Program educates military Child Psychiatry and Social Work Fellows at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to treat young children with deployed or injured parents in a psychoanalytically-informed manner.
As another aspect of the SVI, APsaA will track relevant legislation pending in Congress and organize its members to participate in legislative advocacy when relevant. The long term experience of psychoanalysts as advocates for patient privacy intersects closely with the important need of soldiers and veterans for absolutely privacy of their mental health care (strongly confirmed in the RAND report) and will allow APsaA members to argue with authority on that point.
"The SVI adds a psychoanalytic voice to the public's response to the epic mental health crisis being experienced by American soldiers, veterans, and their families," says Gourguechon. "Psychoanalysts were some of the first to recognize the complex emotional problems of veterans after World War II and we intend to continue this strong commitment to providing education, outreach and counseling services to today's service men and women and their families."
Some relevant statistics and research results are:
* The suicide rate among veterans and active-duty personnel has been rising, with preliminary reports within the Department of Veterans Affairs suggesting that 1,000 veterans within V.A. care were committing suicide on a monthly basis.
* The Rand Corporation's 2008 Report, "The Invisible Wounds of War,"concludes that 18.5% of returning veterans struggle with PTSD or major depression and 19.5% suffer from traumatic brain injuries.
* Due to the stigma of mental illness in the military and limitations in veterans' access to confidential mental healthcare, many who are suffering to untreated. Of the half of those with significant symptoms who do seek treatment, half of those were being offered only minimal care.
SVI will be featured prominently during APsaA's Winter 2009 Meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Author and PTSD expert Jonathan Shay, M.D. will present "The Long Haul: Healing the Wounds of War," during the Presidential Symposium on January 16, 2009, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
Additional SVI sessions at the Meeting include:
* Public Forum on SOFAR-Pro Bono Outreach for Families of Soldiers and Marines Who Served in Iraq and Afghanistan, January 15, 2-4:30 p.m.
* Community Psychoanalysis-Addressing the Hidden Effects of War, January 16, 12 noon-1:30 p.m.
* Clean or Dirty Hands? Mental Health Care Workers & Interrogation, January 17, 12 noon-1:30 p.m.
As another part of the SVI, APsaA will be issuing a series of position statements on soldiers and veterans mental health issues. The first of these, concerning the impact of war trauma on children, is expected to be approved in January 2009. APsaA plans to make these position statements available to veterans' groups such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) as support to their own advocacy efforts.
Finally, APsaA's Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues will present a proposed position statement on the United States'military policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that will be voted on by APsaA's membership at the Winter 2009 Meeting.
APsaA has also established a website section filled with resources for psychoanalysts who wish to join these efforts and for veterans, soldiers and their families. The website features links to organizations with important information as well as a bibliography for all who are interested in learning more about the traumatic aftermath of modern welfare. Books on the psychodynamic treatment of PTSD range from the classic 1945 tome War Neuroses to the current 2008 Rand Corporation monograph "Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery."
For more information about the Soldiers & Veterans Initiative, for press credentials for the Winter Meeting, and/or to schedule an interview with Dr. Gourguechon, please contact Dottie Jeffries, APsaA Director of Public Affairs at 212-752-0450, x 29 or via e-mail at [email protected]
The American Psychoanalytic Association is a professional organization of psychoanalysts throughout the United States and is comprised of approximately 3,300 members. Visit www.aspa.org for more information.
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