Testimony about Operation Home and Healing’s Services to Veterans and Families for the Veterans Advisory Council Commissioners Open Hearing

June 21, 2017

By Nancy Isserman 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to acquaint you with Operation Home and Healing services to the military and Veteran populations. Operation Home and Healing or OHH is part of Council for Relationships. Council for Relationships or CFR, founded in 1932, is a nonprofit community mental health agency whose mission is to help people from all walks of life improve their important relationships by providing therapy, educating and training clinicians in the family systems approach, and advancing the behavioral health field through research.

More than 60 therapists and psychiatrists at 10 offices and community-based locations in the Greater Philadelphia area provide counseling to families, couples, and individuals. Additionally, more than 50 clinical interns per year participate in CFR’s clinician education programs providing counseling on a sliding fee scale. We are committed to providing quality service to all those in need, regardless of ability to pay. Our approach to counseling is the Systemic Model, focusing on the important relationships in our clients’ lives. It is our belief that relationships are the very core and basis of mental health.

CFR has been involved in training and counseling veterans since post-WWII. At that time the Navy became concerned with the problems sailors were experiencing after they returned home from the war. Thus, the Veterans Administration established neuropsychiatric residencies with Council for Relationships and we became an integral part of their training. Operation Home and Healing (OHH), was created in 2007 to coordinate and direct CFR’s work with veterans. OHH’s involvement with the Veteran community is guided by an advisory group with experience in military culture and counseling. They are Dr. Will Barnes, who is the Military Clinical Consultant for CFR and is a retired Chaplain and Colonel who served over 23 years in the National Guard and was the Joint Force Headquarters Chaplain and Director of Family and Soldiers Support Services for the state of DE. He is also a Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor and alumnus of CFR’s post graduate AAMFT certification program. Other advisory group members are: Dr. William Brim, deputy director of the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Christina Barbara Harnett, Associate Professor/Psychologist, Department of Counseling and Human Development, School of Education, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Denise Horton, licensed psychologist and Certified Employee Assistance Professional, at Fort Dix; and Dr. James Martin, Professor of Social Work & Social Research, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, and retired Colonel, U.S. Army.

OHH has a three-part program – counseling, training, and psychoeducational programs for Veterans. Our counseling component includes services to individuals, couples, and families from the military and Veteran populations without any restrictions regarding the nature of their service or discharge. The veteran does not need to be receiving counseling services from us in order for us to provide services to his or her family members. Services are provided on a sliding scale.

Our second component is training. CFR has made a commitment to training our clinicians and interns as well as other clinicians in the region in military culture and best practices. We have incorporated a required course on military culture into our post-graduate certificate in marriage and family therapy. Throughout the year we provide conferences or workshops on topics of interest to clinicians who treat members of the military and Veteran community. In addition, we provide training in military culture for other professionals such as congregational clergy and staff in agencies that serve Veterans.

The third component is psychoeducational programs. OHH conducts educational programming around psychological issues of interest to Veterans and family members who are clients of Veteran service organizations in the Philadelphia region. The programming is tailored to the interests and needs of each agency.

In addition, CFR has participated as a vendor in the city’s Veterans Fair for the past two years and at the Veterans parade in November. CFR is also a member of the Delaware Valley Veterans Consortium and I serve as DVVC’s Secretary.


Nancy Isserman, MSW, Ph.D. Director of Operation Home and Healing, Council for Relationships, 215-382-6680 x3133, nisserman@councilforrelationships.org