Operation Home and Healing Trains Clergy as First Responders

November 1, 2018 | Council for Relationships’ Operation Home and Healing provides counseling and services for active service members, veterans, and their families. The program also provides training for mental health professionals and people of the clergy so that they can provide better support and services to veteran populations and families.

Last month, Operation Home and Healing held one training workshop and one academic 42 hour intensive course for members of the clergy. Clergy are sometimes called “first responders” to mental health issues due to their proximity and personal relationship with their congregants and their struggles. Educating clergy on how to better support their veteran congregants can be a life-saving intervention in mental health outcomes for veterans and their families.

The training session, “Pastoral Training Churches as First Responders to the Military and Veteran Population” was taught at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Denton, Maryland. The academic course,  “Understanding Military Culture and Pastoral Care for Active Duty, Veterans and Family Members” was held at the United Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. General topics included:

  • Recognizing military or veteran congregant families facing problems
  • Understanding military culture and its impact on families
  • Identifying pastoral roles in ministering to congregants with moral injury

The intensive course took a deeper dive into specific issues such as stressors specifically related to military duties and service life, reintegration, grief and bereavement, suicide prevention, moral injury, military sexual trauma, intimate partner violence, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and intergenerational trauma.

The training session was facilitated by Dr. Will Barnes and Wanda Sevey, and the academic course at United Lutheran Seminary was taught by Nancy Isserman and Will Barnes.

Will Barnes, D.Min, MFT, Clinical Fellow and approved AAMFT supervisor, CH, COL, Ret.










Dolores Littleton, DMin, LMFT Director of Post-Graduate Certificate Program, Clergy Track


Nancy Isserman, MSW, PhD, Director of Operation Home and Healing

For more information about Operation Home and Healing, or to host a training, visit this page or contact veterans@councilforrelationships.org.