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Seminar equips civilians with tools to help wounded warriors

Do you want to learn how to help wounded warriors find healing? Military Ministry will present Bridges to Healing — a free seminar designed to train individuals to help Soldiers struggling with combat trauma — Nov. 6 at St. Mark United Methodist Church.

“This is a tremendous need,” said Chaplain (COL) Thomas MacGregor, garrison chaplain. “So often the civilian communities want to help service members and families especially with regards to combat trauma. This is a wonderful niche they can fill by first of all becoming aware of (the problem) and then receiving some training.”

Doors open at 8:15 a.m. and the seminar begins at 9. Guest speakers Vietnam veteran Mr. Stephen Dorner, his wife, Karen, and former Army Ranger and veteran of the Battle of Robert’s Ridge, Mr. Nate Self, will lead the morning portion of the event.

After lunch, included free with the seminar, individuals can choose from one of five workshops: Combat Trauma Healing Manual, When War Comes Home, Defending Your Military Marriage, Counseling Combat Trauma and Peer-To-Peer Mentoring.

“This is for churches, community organizations, veteran organizations and anyone who is interested in reaching out to troops, veterans, retirees and their families,” said MAJ(R) Paul Buckhiester, pastor of Midway United Methodist Church, who is coordinating the event.

The seminar has two focuses, he said, preventative and therapeutic.

“Essentially all folks who engage in combat are wounded to one degree or another,” said MAJ(R) Buckhiester, who was wounded during the Vietnam War.

“Some of the wounds don’t show until the Soldier returns to his family or home, and many times they don’t manifest themselves for six months to even a year,” he said. “The range of experience Soldiers have is everything from sitting in an office answering a telephone to very traumatic life-changing experiences that would have a huge effect on anybody.

“The thing people need to understand about combat trauma is it’s a normal response to an abnormal situation. What we’re seeing is even when we prepare people the best we can, we still have wounds that are unseen and need to be treated — and that’s where the seminar comes in.”

Often Soldiers don’t want to open up about what they perceive as a problem, MAJ(R) Buckhiester said; that’s why having a force of trained, equipped civilians who live and work with these Soldiers helps.

The chaplain said the seminar will help raise awareness about combat trauma so civilians can help service members “cross the bridge to wholeness.”

“You don’t see anything physical, but the trauma people have undergone does cause their mind to respond in ways (others) don’t understand,” he said. “Family members wonder why their warrior is a little off and is having trouble focusing. Unless we are caring for them physically, mentally and spiritually, a person may not be healed holistically.”For those interested in beginning spiritual care groups within their organization, the seminar will cover tips and techniques to get started.

To register for the event, visit http://bthswbenning2010.eventbrite.com. Child care is not provided. The seminar ends at 3:30 p.m.

For more information, call 706-566-1999. For more about Military Ministry, visit www.militaryministry.org/families/bthm-2.

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