Supporting Our Veterans: Memories and Healing
Memorial Day turns our thoughts to those in the military and opportunities for supporting them. Duquesne University offers a free psychological services clinic, open to veterans and active military personnel, their families, boyfriends and girlfriends, and parents.
The clinic is free, and no diagnosis is required. The Duquesne Military Services Program, directed by Dr. Roger Brooke, a veteran and father of a vet, can work with other agencies but operates independently of government/military agencies and adheres to the highest professional standards, including confidentiality.
The clinic helps in exploring such topics as:
- Coping with sexual assault. A top headline in the last month, sexual assault of both men and women in the military has been reported and is under examination at the top levels. How is reporting being handled? What challenges are faced by those who have suffered sexual assault? Doctoral candidate Jessica Payton is studying issues around the sexual assault of female service members, focusing on possible re-traumatization or secondary victimization faced by those reporting sexual assault in the military context.
- Seeking support before deployment. Being as prepared as possible is a standard in the military, and Brooke and his clinical staff can discuss advantages of managing expectations and tough times by preparing in advance. While more members of the military are choosing this option, their numbers are few overall.
- Parents working through issues. Having a son or daughter in the military carries a specific set of stressors. The clinic can work with parents who are facing fears about their child's safety and well-being.
Brooke also urges families to honor veterans and start a conversation.
"We encourage the families and adult children of veterans to say that they would like to pay their respects on Memorial Day but are not sure how or what their veteran family member might like them to do," Brooke said. "Perhaps family members can open a conversation or at least let the veteran know that they are genuinely interested, and that part of the reason is that they would like to know that person better.
"Veterans who never talk about their military experience at all are robbing their children and spouses of the opportunity of getting to know them.
"Ask if there is someone in particular-perhaps someone who never returned-that they would like their families to remember with them," Brooke said. "Veterans belong to a story that is an inheritance, which needs to be passed to the next generation.
Memories of the sacrifice, heroism and love of others give dignity and steadiness to our lives, and they deepen our sense of our place in the American story."