One Therapist’s Perspective on Veterans and being a Veteran By: Jonna Board, LMFT, Adult IOP Therapist, 2Lt Jonna Board, Equal Opportunities Officer, Minnesota Air Force National Guard

It has been several years now since I have worked with the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Campaign helping soldiers and their families during and after deployments for the MN National Guard.  However, the mission to continue to support Veterans and their families in this way has continued for me whether in my civilian job, during drill weekends, on deployments, or even by supporting other friends and family members.  I have received several phone calls just in the past few months from individuals inquiring on how to support their family member who seems to be struggling with reintegrating.  As a therapist, my first advice is to always encourage individuals to never be afraid to ask a soldier struggling about if they have any thoughts of Suicide.  There continues to be this fear in society that by asking you will put the idea in their head, which simply isn’t true, the most important thing to do is simply ask.  I also encourage family and friends to make sure they stay involved in their soldiers lives.  I know individuals who play video games with their soldier via the web, make sure they workout with their soldiers, actively seek mental health treatment with their loved one, but really spending time with them, listening to them/us means the world.  I am continuously amazed that whenever I leave for military training or a deployment it always takes me longer than I think to readjust.  I am thankful to have the training I do, that I work for an employer who supports my military career, and that my family and friends continue to actively participate in my life both when I am away and when I return home.  However, whether Veterans have support or not the transition is never an easy one.  I have heard through the years that when the soldiers get home the real battle begins.  I strongly believe that it our responsibility in the mental health field to support veterans and their families not just during deployments but the months and years to follow.  Below is a list of resources that I have found to be helpful:

https://www.va.gov/

https://www.minnesotanationalguard.org/btyr/

https://www.militaryonesource.mil/

Jonna Board, LMFT, Adult IOP Therapist, PrairieCare

2Lt Jonna Board, Equal Opportunities Officer, Minnesota Air Force National Guard

3 Comments
  • Margot Estabrook Stienstra Posted November 12, 2013 9:05 pm

    Thank you, Jonna. It is helpful, as a non-military person / concerned citizen and therapist to be offered specific ways to support the military population and their families, especially those affected by transitioning post-deployment. Regular reminders are also encouraging. In my three months here I have seen many indications that Minnesotans in general are quite alert and receptive to, and supportive of, veterans. I was sorry to learn though, via an article in a MN business journal, that MN ranks poorly -and my home state of MA is even worse- in employing veterans, so I hope this continues to improve. Meanwhile, anyone wanting to align themselves w/ others paying their respects missed an exceptional opportunity this past Sunday at the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel. It was gratifying though to learn they honor veterans weekly throughout the year.

    • jboard@prairie-care.com Posted November 13, 2013 6:04 pm

      Margot,
      Thanks for your kind response. The campaign I mentioned above called “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” was an intiative started by CH (COL) John Morris in 2008. A significant part of this campaign was and is to continue to educate communities and organizations on how to support Veterans. I agree that having education and training for other states like this would be extremely supportive for Veterans. Below is a great message from CH (COL) Morris that he did in 2010 that I often share with individuals and organizations looking to support military members. http://www.onbeing.org/program/soul-war/feature/beyond-yellow-ribbon/1353
      Very Respectfully,
      Jonna

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