Understanding Military Culture & Behavioral Health Treatment for Active Military, Veterans, & Family Members


This intermediate-level course will focus on the unique cultural factors associated with military service, and veteran’s status regarding establishing and sustaining effective relationships. The role of both acute and chronic stressors that accompany military life and reintegration into civilian life will be examined. The tension between empathy and vulnerability within the therapeutic relationship and a culture in which vulnerability and help-seeking are stigmatized will be explored to identify the potential client and systemic barriers clinicians face in providing mental health counseling to this population.

Total CE Hours: 15

Note: No partial CEs will be granted.  In order to be eligible for CEs all sessions must be attended in their entirety.

Dates and Times:
Tuesday June 13 – 9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Tuesday June 20 – 9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Tuesday June 27 – 9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Tuesday July 11 – 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M

Location: Zoom videoconferencing

Presenter: Nancy Isserman, MSW, PhD and Courtney Ragin, LMFT

Topics: stressors specifically related to military life and duties, including the impact of the military deployment cycle, combat and other dangerous military duty exposures, family separation, and reintegration from military service to civilian life.

There will be a specific focus on family issues, women in the service and post deployment, blacks and other minorities in the military, grief and loss, suicide, moral injury, military sexual trauma, PTSD, TBI, IPV, substance abuse, and intergenerational trauma. Multimedia material and case studies are incorporated into the course.

Level of difficulty (Introductory, Intermediate, Advanced):  Intermediate

This workshop is for:  Therapists, graduate students in social work, MFT, and counseling programs

Learning Objectives

  1. To identify and assess potential prejudices and biases that the students may hold related to military culture, service members and/or veterans, and military connected family members.
  2. To describe the impact of military culture and military ethos on a service member’s, veteran’s, and/or military connected family member’s sense of self, others, and worldview.
  3.  To identify how military ethos may contribute to strengths, coping skills, stress, stigma, help seeking, and mental health behaviors.
  4. To identify specific questions or approaches to use when working with military/veterans and military connected family members.
  5. To list and explain specific stressors (i.e., reintegration, grief and loss, suicide, SUD, IPV, moral injury, military sexual trauma, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and intergenerational trauma) through the lens of military culture and experiences.
  6. To describe current research on outcomes and behaviors applied specifically to problems related to military service and identify the unique findings related to military/Veteran personnel and military connected family members.

References/Suggested Readings

Hoge, C. (2011) Interventions for War-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Meeting Veterans Where They Are. JAMA. 306(5). 549-551. Downloaded from jama.ama-assn.org  by guest on August 2, 2011

Mobbs, M.C. & Bonanno, G.A. (2018). Beyond war and PTSD: The crucial role of transition stress in the lives of military veterans. Clinical Psychology Review. Online 21 November 2017.

Litz, B.T. & Maguen, S. (2012). Moral injury in Veterans of war. PTSD Research Quarterly.  Vol 23(1).

Martin, J. & Mancini, D. (2014) Grief: A Brief Definition and Discussion. Funded by the Department of the Army and the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture under Grant Award 2010-48726-21891 with The University of Georgia

Pincus, S., Leiner, B., Black, N. & Ward Singh, T. (2011). The impact of deployment on military families and children.  In Ritchie, E. (Ed.). Combat and Operational Behavioral Health, Fort Bell, M.E., Turchik, J.A., & Karpenko, J.A. (2014). Impact of gender on reactions to military sexual assault and harassment. Health & Social Work. 39(1): 25-31.

The five-part GI Jane series, Coming Out of the Shadows: Women Veterans and Homelessness on Huffington Post, February-April 2017.

Teeters, J.B., Lancaster, C.L., Brown, D.G., & Back, S.E. (2017). Substance use disorders in military veterans: Prevalence and treatment challenges. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. 8:69-77.

Tinney, G. & Gerlock, A.  Intimate Partner Violence, Military Personnel, Veterans, and Their Families.   Read pages 1-21. Unpublished paper. Downloaded from Researchgate.net. March 26. 2019.

Ungvarsky, J.J. & Trivette, S.M. (2017). Mild traumatic brain injuries in military personnel. Family Therapy Magazine 16(3): 24-27.

Hollander-Goldfein, B., Isserman, N. & Goldenberg, J. (2012). Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience and Clinical Implications for Treatment. New York: Routledge, chapters 8, 9.

Presenter Biographies

Nancy Isserman, MSW, Ph.D. is the Director of Operation Home and Healing: Services for Veterans and Families (OHH); and Co-Director of Transcending Trauma Project (TTP) at Council for Relationships (CFR), Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Isserman is also currently serving as vice chair of the executive committee of the Delaware Valley Veterans Consortium (DVVC). For the past five years she has taught Understanding Military Culture and Mental Health Treatment for Veterans and Families to clinicians and students at CFR and in the Philadelphia region. She has also taught Understanding Military Culture and Pastoral Care at United Lutheran Seminary. In addition, for the past several years Isserman has taught workshops to congregational clergy on military culture and behavioral health concerns. She is a co-author of Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience and Clinical Implications in Survivor Families and author of articles on teaching military culture to clinicians and Holocaust survivor families.

Courtney Ragin, LMFT is an Office Director and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Council for Relationships (CFR) in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked with individuals, couples, and families for the past five years to address concerns related to anxiety, depression, trauma, substance abuse, relationship challenges, and life transitions. She currently sees clients through Operation Home and Healing: Services for Veterans and Families (OHH) and has a special interest in working with the military and veteran community. Courtney has both personal and professional experience in understanding military culture and is passionate about reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health services in the military and helping clients utilize strengths garnered from the military experience to overcome mental health and relational challenges. She is the daughter of a Marine Corps veteran and sister of a National Guard Member.

Event Details

Day 1: June 13, 2023
Start time: 09:00 a.m.
End time: 01:00 p.m.

Day 2: June 20, 2023
Start time: 09:00 a.m.
End time: 01:00 p.m.

Day 3: June 27, 2023
Start time: 09:00 a.m.
End time: 01:00 p.m.

Day 4: July 11, 2023
Start time: 09:00 a.m.
End time: 12:00 p.m.