Three-week program aids PTSD sufferers

Now, a 20-day residential program in Vernon is helping military veterans and retired RCMP members

The numbers are concerning.

Close to one in six members of the Canadian military returning from deployment suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For police, the numbers are even higher.

Now, a 20-day residential program in Vernon is helping military veterans and retired RCMP members to heal from their invisible injuries.

“Because of their unique role in our society, many military and police members are exposed to highly traumatic events. They are exposed to dangerous situations on a repeated basis, and they have to deal with multiple trauma involving others,” said psychologist Dr. Gordon Davidson, director of the Operational Stress Recovery Program.

“This can result in chronic anxiety and depression, and PTSD symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing, insomnia, hyper-vigilance, irritability, agitation and social isolation. These difficulties often take a heavy toll on relationships.”

This first-of-its-kind Canadian program sees specially-trained counsellors help the military and police to recover from trauma using both individual and group counseling.

The program enjoys the endorsement of several veterans groups and accepts Veterans Affairs Canada health identification cards.

A specialized program for women assists participants recover from traumatic experiences in the line of duty, which may include sexual harassment and bullying from colleagues.

Most participants find considerable relief in being able to relate to others having similar experiences, especially as many have become socially isolated after they retire. The group format provides important support and understanding from other participants.

Evidence based methods include biofeedback, neurofeedback, mindfulness and relaxation strategies for emotional self regulation, eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and cognitive behavioral therapy are used to reduce and manage traumatic memories.

In group educational sessions participants learn resilience strategies, conflict resolution, communication and group membership skills.

For the comfort of attendees, pets or service pets are welcome during the course of the program.

For participants with spouses, partners may attend a couples’ educational program  during the last three days.

For more information, visit www.OperationalStress