An effort to reach our veterans

Last week we discussed the inspiring Rayven Sample, a local athlete who excels despite the physical challenges of a condition known as arthrogryposis.

From Raven Sample, we now switch to our veterans, who, unlike Rayven, are giving up, some of them. It’s estimated that 20-30 veterans commit suicide daily. What is appalling is that is a figure that we only know about. This should be totally unacceptable to everyone, especially the Veteran’s Administration. Because of this issue, one of my students in REBT, who will remain anonymous, but has experience working with veterans and PTSD, set up this program that REBT is going to implement called R.E.B.T. for PTSD. This is her writing, and her idea. Needless to say I’m proud of her writing. So, here goes.

“REBT stands for Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. It is a self-managing technique that helps people identify and examine one’s rational and irrational beliefs regarding themselves, others, and situations and how they relate these beliefs in response to an activating event.

Activating events are things that happen usually outside of a person’s control. REBT gives people tools to re-identify and reorganize thoughts to try and prevent a negative perspective on feelings, thus preventing a negative, potentially self-harming reaction. It is a technique that can be taught, learned, and implemented in most any situation which may cause feelings of anger, rage, shame, guilt, anxiety, depression and fear. The goal is to try and manage these powerful feeling states and change the way we think about activating events in order to teach people to react or not react, in a different way.

REBT has had well-documented success in helping people with addictions, depression, those with self-management difficulties or phobias, and a host of other personality disorders. It stands to reason that given the proper tools, a soldier with PTSD would benefit from the ability to re-teach themselves to look at an activating event, evaluate the actuality of the event and its effect on them, and have the ability to make a conscious decision as to how to respond to that event. In essence, to rate or qualify the event/trauma as good/bad, right/wrong, positive/negative, but not rate the person, but the behavior of the person that experienced the trauma.

As a former nurse/paramedic, I have had a multitude of encounters with veterans suffering from PTSD. I have also had the honor of working with numerous afflicted veterans, most of whom I consider close friends. After my own experience REBT, and some extensive research into theory, I truly feel the REBT experience tools and techniques taught and utilized would be of monumental benefit for our veterans, and a valuable addition to their current therapy regimen.

Is it not our DUTY to them, to arm them with the best weapons possible to deal with their feelings of anger, rage, shame, guilt, anxiety, depression and low self-worth?”

As you, the reader, can see, she knows what she is talking about. Good job “D.” There is no charge for REBT treatment. We provide coffee and doughnuts, do not pass the hat, just come and get better. What has led me to go in this direction, was when I was counseling at Caz Manor and had veterans as my clients. I discovered that many of them had between 8-15 treatments on all levels. However, many of them continued to be in internal pain daily. When we would 1-1 counsel, they would share their pain openly on issues form “the war.” I would listen, offer suggestions to try and help them through the pain, and they seemed to feel better. However, as time went by, these sessions became short-lived because they would continue to talk about the same issues time and time again and it became apparent to me that they had done this for many years without any closure. I knew at that point that if I was going to help them for the year that they were with us, that I would have to do something different. For you veterans that want a new approach, come to an REBT meeting on Thursday night at 7 P.M. at the Holy Trinity Parish Center and start with “how amazing it is what you learn, after you think that you know it all.” Let’s start “making your mess, your message to yourselves.”

One final note: Kudos to our county executive for coming out against recreational marijuana. Hundreds of kids and parents thank you, as does this counselor. It’s refreshing to see someone in authority choose health and safety over money.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.