Date: January 15, 2007
Contact: Lindsay Gladstone
Governors State University
Phone: (708) 534-7090
Fax: (708) 534-8399
For Immediate Release
University Park, IL, January 15, 2007 – “In Afghanistan and Iraq, life and death are a daily routine. Our service men and women must push their emotions aside so they can function. What was real is no longer real. Then they come home to where life went on without them, where they have to swallow their emotions, and change the way they love, live, and relate.”
Dr. Cyrus M. Ellis understands the emotional crisis often faced by returning war veterans. He is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Governors State University, with 20 years service in the U.S. Army, and has been on a number of military deployments.
“Veterans need to share the intangibles with someone who understands, someone who won’t question their values, and who will keep them from being alone in the darkness.”
Vets 4 Vets began in 2005 to address this need. The organization provides free, specialized training for veterans and professionals and students in counseling, psychology, social work, addictions counseling, and nursing to enable them to organize and facilitate small discussion groups comprised of veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. Guided by the facilitator, the veterans help each other, share experiences, and find understanding and solace.
“This is a grass roots effort to provide additional services to returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets coping with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” said Ray Parrish, G.I. counselor for Vietnam Vets Against the War and trainer in the Vets 4 Vets program. “An active Vets 4 Vets group encourages veterans not currently in treatment to open up to other vets. If needed, the support group also serves as a component of a therapy program.
“In Vets 4 Vets, they share stories from the front and about returning home. It is in a self-help group format so vets help their own with a facilitator to assist in the process,” said Dr. Ellis. “There is a critical need for groups like this. These groups could prevent vets from falling through the cracks and needing more in depth services.”
Dr. Ellis, the counseling honors society Chi Sigma Iota at GSU, and the Illinois Counseling Association Student Division of GSU is sponsoring free training for area veterans interesting in becoming facilitators as well as students, professors and professionals in social work, addiction studies, counseling, psychology, and nursing.
“The training is designed to help veterans and counseling professionals understand the veteran’s situation. You do not need experience in combat or in any particular branch of the service,” said Dr. Ellis. “This program doesn’t exist in the south suburbs so I wanted to provide training here at Governors State. Facilitators will learn how to take their training and start Vets 4 Vets groups in any area where they are needed; in church basements, family rooms, or schools.”
Participants need to attend only one training session and there is no charge. Training sessions are on February 20 and 27, from 6 to 9 p.m., in the Cafeteria Annex at Governors State University, 1 University Parkway, University Park. For more information or to register, interested veterans and helping professionals or students should call (708) 534-4907.