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Insights on the Aftermath in Afghanistan

September 13, 2021

The last troops have left Afghanistan, but our work with the fallout from the longest war in U.S. history continues. At Council for Relationships (CFR) our therapists are continuing to see their veteran and veteran-connected family member clients. We know from our own clients and from other veteran service organizations that many veterans are upset because of the recent events in Afghanistan. In addition, the 20th anniversary of 9-11 has added to the sadness, grief, loss, and trauma that they are experiencing at this time.

Some comments that our clinicians have heard or expressed in recent days are: “My client was quietly but visibly upset as he spoke about friends and colleagues who had been talking to him about the Afghan situation. He has been active-duty for 16 years and has deployed during that time.” Other clients discussed their reactions with our therapists and their concerns for other veterans and for those who just returned from Afghanistan. One thought that his commitment to helping other veterans could have a hopeful impact on him. Finally, even therapists have felt the impact. One therapist mentioned that “Being involved with Operation Home and Healing and working with folks from the military and having been in college during the fall of Saigon I also have feelings about Afghanistan.”

The American Psychiatric Association recently announced that it is critical for service members to have access to mental health resources in light of the fall of Afghanistan, which may trigger a wide range of emotions including anger and concerns for those who could not be evacuated in time.

CFR is committed to providing access to these needed services for the military and veteran communities. We are a partner with Headstrong. Through this partnership CFR provides cost-free, rapid response, stigma-free, unlimited, and confidential therapy to active-duty service members, members of the National Guard and Reserves, veterans of all eras, spouses, and children, regardless of their characterization of discharge or combat status. Clients who seek treatment through Headstrong will be contacted within 48 hours. To get started, visit Headstrong’s website and mention that you are a CFR referral.

CFR is also an active member of the Delaware Valley Veterans Consortium (DVVC), which provides additional resources on its website. DVVC recently hosted a Virtual Town Hall titled “The Fallout from Afghanistan: How to Help Yourself, and How to Help Others.” Panelists included Susan DelMaestro, Ph.D., Director of Psychology Internship and Residency Training, Psychologist/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team, Cpl. Michael Crescenz VA Medical Center; Gregory A. Leskin, Ph.D., Director, NCTSN Military and Veteran Families Program, UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Trauma; Cathryn Miller-Wilson, Esquire, Executive Director, HIAS Pennsylvania; and Lt Col Justin Jarrell, who is Commander of the 305th Operations Support Squadron at JBMDL. The goal of the panel was to help people process the impact of the recent events in Afghanistan. It also gave information on how to help others, including the resettlement of Afghan refugees and people who have come to the U.S. seeking safety from the Taliban because of their work on behalf of the U.S. war effort over the past 20 years.

For help with your thoughts and feelings about the war in Afghanistan, you may call CFR Client Care at 215-382-6680 ext. 1 or request an appointment by filling out an online form. We will return your call within 48 hours. Many of our clinicians are trained in understanding military culture and are committed to providing quality therapy services to all regardless of ability to pay.

Nancy Isserman, MSW, PhD is the Director of CFR’s Operation Home and Healing (OHH)