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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Vermont Community Conference Set to Help Returning Troops

Vermont is getting ready to host a valuable conference aimed at giving community members the tools to help their returning Vermont National Guard troops readjust to civilian life following combat. The daylong event will take place this Thursday, June 8th, 2006, at Northwich University in Northfield, VT.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Associated Press:

Once while in church during her husband's second wartime deployment, Kristin Henderson had a panic attack when she found herself planning his funeral in her head. "You are imagining they are already dead," said Henderson, of Washington, D.C., whose husband, a Navy chaplain, later returned safely from Iraq. "I would literally walk myself through the funeral. I found that walking through it gave me a feeling of control over a period in which I had no control."

It was later as Henderson was researching her book "While They're At War" that she discovered she was experiencing anticipatory grief, a natural reaction for someone whose loved one is at war. The experience is also typical of someone with a terminally ill relative, she said.

Henderson is going to give the keynote address at a conference called "From the War Zone to the Home Front," which will be held Thursday at Norwich University in Northfield.

The conference is a collaboration of the Vermont National Guard, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Vermont Health Department and a number of other groups, said Laurie Slone, the associate director for research and education at the White River Junction-based National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The conference will welcome people within the community who may not be directly tied to the military, yet may play a supporting role in the lives of military family members.

More than 1,000 Vermont National Guard members have served overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. A group of 400 that has spent almost a year on the ground in Ramadi -- one of the most dangerous places in Iraq for American soldiers -- is due home later this month. Another group of Vermont soldiers is preparing to go to Iraq later this summer.

Since her book was published earlier this year Henderson, whose husband first deployed to Afghanistan and then Iraq, has been speaking with a lot of military groups. She said she was coming to Vermont in part because she knew Marcelle Leahy, the wife of Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the honorary chair of the Vermont National Guard Family Readiness and Support Services. "My main message is to help civilians understand what service members (and their families) go through during deployment," Henderson said.

And if National Guard soldiers and reservists need help after getting off active duty they will probably end up dealing with civilians. "A lot of those folks are eager to help, but don't know the ins and outs what these people need," Henderson said.

Dowload the conference brochure [pdf], as well as The Vermont Yellow Book: Resources for Service Members and Their Families [doc]. Find more info at the National Center for PTSD Vermont Resources page.

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