It Takes a Community


It Takes a Community

Therapy-As-Usual Can't Serve the Needs of Our Returning Troops

By Laurie Leitch and Elaine Miller-Karas

November/December 2010


The debate about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has raged for a decade, but no one disputes one fact: as a result of those conflicts, thousands and thousands of young men and women have been profoundly wounded—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The statistics measuring the effects of wartime service on our troops reveal high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, homicide, suicide, divorce, depression, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, unless we're closely related to someone in the military, many of us still feel insulated from the impact of these wars, detached from the sacrifices of those fighting them, and removed from the problems they experience once they return to civilian life.

Our detachment and complacency about the consequences of these wars are profoundly miscalculated. Although combat missions have ended in Iraq and the countdown to the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has begun, the long-term impact of these engagements will be far more pervasive and widespread than many of us realize. In addition, it's becoming increasingly clear that our mental healthcare establishment, both civilian and military, isn't capable of handling this public healthcare crisis. Those in the trenches of service delivery already know that our standard psychotherapeutic paradigm—one mental health professional with one client, applying one or several standard interventions—fails to meet the needs of this population, both…

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