Veterans work together to help heal "invisible wounds"
COLUMBIA - Veterans from across the country are in Columbia this weekend to try and illuminate ways to heal injuries people can’t see.
“Mid-Missouri partners decided that we needed to start talking about the invisible wounds of war in veterans,” said Leslie LeSieur, executive director of Mid-America Center for Ministry.
The Long Road Home workshop at the First Presbyterian Church on Hitt Street is addressing invisible wounds, including post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems such as moral injury and soul wounds.
“We realized that in order to build community, we had to engage the community and part of that engagement would be letting them know what the veterans endure and explaining this concept of a soul wound,” said David Hammer, co-director of All the Way Home, a group of veterans and civilians working to give mid-Missouri service members necessary resources to support their return home from war.
Hammer said a soul wound is not a reaction to trauma or stress, but comes from being in a situation that always has a difficult ending.
“They have been in situations that aren't just a life or death situation, but a kill or be killed scenario,” said the founder of Warriors Journey Home, John Schluep.
These injuries are often obtained as a result of military experience, but emergency personnel can also be affected.
All four presenters have had personal experience facing, treating and overcoming invisible wounds and are working to help others in similar situations.
“Our communities really don't know how to deal with our veterans, and our veterans are afraid of our community, mostly, for the most part because they're not understood,” said John Fisher, founder of CORE (Community Reconciliation) Vietnam.
The Long Road Home workshop has on overall goal of effecting a change for the better.
Kate Hendrick Thomas is a former Marine and is now an assistant professor of health promotion at Charleston Southern University. She said people who are attending this workshop will learn valuable tools to help themselves and others.
“Everybody should leave here with some techniques and tactics and solutions that they can use in their own communities.”