June 1, 2024, is the deadline to apply for CFR’s Fall 2024 Postgraduate Certificate Program cohort in Marriage & Family Therapy, Sex Therapy, and Clergy track. Apply here.

Supporting the Mental Health of Veterans’ Families

Memorial Day this year is Monday, May 29, 2023. Unlike Veterans Day in November when we honor all who have served, Memorial Day honors all who have died for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. So many are impacted by the loss of a loved one who served the United States. At CFR, we honor those who’ve lost their lives serving our country by supporting the mental health of Veterans’ families with the highest quality, culturally-competent mental health care.

Image of Philadelphia National Cemetery with rows of white grave stones on green grass. Trees edge along the border of the image.

Philadelphia National Cemetery (pictured here) was one of 14 national cemeteries established in 1862 and was registered as a National Historic Place in 1997.

The ongoing mental health trauma families of Veterans who died

Over one million people have given their lives since 1775 to protect our country and our freedoms. Memorial Day customs include displaying the American flag at half-staff until noon and then raising it to the top of the staff, visiting cemeteries, and placing flags and flowers on the graves of veterans.

In the Philadelphia area there are three national cemeteries open to visitors. They are the Philadelphia National Cemetery, Washington Crossing, and Mount Moriah Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot and Naval Plot. Other Memorial Day commemorations include attending a Memorial Day service, viewing a parade, observing a moment of silence, or wearing a red poppy as a symbol of the fallen.

These actions are important and remind us of the sacrifice others have made on our behalf. And yet, as Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, former Governor of Michigan has stated,

“Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well.”

Her words resonate with Council for Relationships who is committed to serving service members, veterans and their families through counseling services in the Delaware Valley region, from clinicians trained in military cultural competency or who are themselves veterans or veteran-connected family members.

The logo for the Headstrong Project. There is a dark red-orange and black logo above the words The Headstrong Project. Head in Headstrong is dark red-orange while the other text is black.

The Headstrong Project is a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 in New York City.

Addressing the mental health needs of Veterans and their families

Since 2007 CFR has provided valuable services to Veterans and their family members throughout the region through Operation Home and Healing (OHH). OHH provides counseling to active duty, National Guard, Veterans, and their families by clinicians trained in military cultural competency through in person visits or online therapy.

CFR  offers a 15-hour course in Understanding Military Culture and Behavioral Health Treatment for Veterans and Families. It is a four-week course and is worth 15 CE credits. I encourage you to sign up for the course. CFR is committed to training its students and staff in military culture to provide culturally sensitive therapy to the military and veteran communities. There are no restrictions on the number of sessions, nor are military discharge papers, or DD214s, required. Importantly, family members may be treated with or without the service member or Veteran present.

Currently, CFR is a provider of counseling services through The Headstrong Project. Headstrong is a national non-profit committed to providing up to 31 cost-free therapy sessions. Thereafter these sessions are offered for a small copay. There are no waiting lists for services provided by OHH through Headstrong. These sessions are confidential for service members, veterans, and family members from any era of service. To request Headstrong services, here is the link. CFR has also received a PA Veterans Trust Fund grant to provide subsidized counseling for people who do not qualify for Headstrong services.

Picture of the front of the Northport VA Medical Center under dark, cloudy skies.

The Northport VA Medical Center on Long Island, NY, (pictured here) was first established in 1941 to conduct clinical and biomedical research in neuropsychiatric disorders.

The unique mental health needs of Veterans and their families

Service members often face challenges reintegrating back into their families. The separation from the family environment for weeks or months of stressful military duty has the potential to create relationship problems for service members and their loved ones.

While away from the family, issues arise such as: what information to communicate; how much detail to share; and how to maintain appropriate and healthy dialogue between the spouse/family at home and the service member. Upon returning to the family, roles often have to be renegotiated and relationships rebuilt. Exploring answers to these questions and finding healthy ways to address these problems and promote family resiliency are examples of topics CFR therapists will engage military and veteran clients with.

CFR is ready to support the mental health needs of Veterans and their families

If you know of anyone who needs help with their thoughts and feelings about readjusting to civilian life or for any other issue, refer them to CFR Client Care at 215-382-6680 ext. 1 or request an appointment by filling out an online form. We will return their call within 48 hours.

We are motivated to help our warriors and their families for the sacrifices they made for us and to secure our freedom. Through Operation Home and Healing services at CFR  we honor, those who serve today and those who have served in the past. As Rodney Frelinghuysen, former US Representative from New Jersey stated, “Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.”

Profile of Dr. Nancy Isserman with her left shoulder forward and looking directly at the camera against a green, natural background. She is wearing a blue turtleneck with a white necklace. She has short hair is a smiling. She is also wearing a blue hat.

Dr. Nancy Isserman, MSW, (pictured here) has dedicated her career to addressing the mental health needs of Veterans and their families.

About the Author

Nancy Isserman, MSW, PhD, is Director of Operation Home and Healing, and the Co-Director of the Transcending Trauma Project. She is also co-author of Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience and Clinical Implications in Survivor Families.

If you have questions about supporting the mental health of Veterans’ families, you may reach Dr. Isserman at nisserman@councilforrelationships.org or 215-395-3140 ext. 3133.

See our Therapist & Psychiatrist Directory to find a CFR therapist or psychiatrist near you.

About Operation Home & Healing

CFR’s Operation Home and Healing (OHH) provides counseling for active-duty service members, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and veterans of all eras (regardless of their characterization of discharge or combat status), and their spouses.

Click here to learn more about OHH.

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Our Shared Impact

Memorial Day: Honoring the Dead by Serving the Living