Posted by Diana Moon, DCoE Public Affairs on June 24, 2013
Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division pray prior to a foot patrol in Khalis, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)
Chaplains are often the first stop of support for service members wrestling with moral and spiritual uncertainties stemming from the stress of serving in a combat environment, domestic difficulties surrounding deployment, and psychological health concerns such as posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse. There seems to be less of a stigma associated with seeking the counsel of a chaplain, who also may be viewed as more approachable, than engaging in formal avenues of psychological health care. For some, the only assistance that feels right during stressful times is spiritual support that’s completely confidential between service member and chaplain.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Chaplain Working Group, consisting of military and Department of Veterans Affairs’ chaplains, is a spiritually-focused forum on deployment-related challenges. It’s an opportunity for the participants to collaborate effectively with each other regarding the psychological health issues they experience with service members. The group meets via teleconference every other month.
During its last meeting, Dr. Peter Levine, director of The Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, presented on “Somatic Experiencing: A Naturalistic Approach to the Healing of Trauma.” “Somatic experiencing,” characterized by Levine as a body awareness approach to trauma, is based on his realization that human beings have a natural ability to overcome the effects of trauma and stress.