America Supports You: Foundation Helps Vets, Families Readjust
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 2007 Relying on her experience helping her Iraq-veteran son deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, an Oklahoma woman has created a foundation to help a wider military audience with readjustment issues.
As Cynthia Collins-Clark, a licensed professional counselor, looked for help for her son, she noticed that information available on his condition was impersonal, complicated or minimized the severity of the problem, she said.
“My fate has been to have a full understanding of mental illness from a professional level and to live ‘up-close and personal’ with it as a mother of an (Operation Iraqi Freedom) veteran,” Collins-Clark said on the Veterans’ Families United Foundation’s Web site, explaining that her aim is to “share information, support, and encouragement for those who watched their soldier leave to serve our country and return as a different person.”
One way Collins-Clark hopes to help families facing situations similar to hers is through a service project the foundation has dubbed “The REST House.” REST is an acronym that stands for Readjustment, Environment and Service Transition. She’s raising private funds for a test house in Oklahoma City, which would be set up as a live-in environment for a small population of returning psychologically challenged veterans. It would include a phased and heavily researched alternative approach to reintegrating servicemembers back into society, she explained.
“This project … operates on the premise that prevention and intervention for servicemembers who present with post-traumatic stress disorder and other related mental health problems after they return from active duty, is more honoring, hope-filled and ultimately more cost effective than a lifetime of disability,” she said on the Web site. “We believe that many of the serious mental health problems (servicemembers face) could be prevented through an appropriate, tiered readjustment period.”
Veterans’ Families United Foundation is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
“We’re thrilled to be part of any effort to support our troops,” Collins-Clark said, adding she hoped the affiliation would yield increased exposure for the group.