Treatment for physical and mental wounds of war doesn’t always come in the form of medication or therapy. Rehabilitation can take other forms that speak to the expressive side of people as they sort out the difficult moments that happen during a deployment.
That’s the idea behind a new writing program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at the new campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. “Operation Homecoming” will give injured servicemembers a chance to use writing as part of a holistic treatment approach to post-traumatic stress and TBI. Retired Lt. Col. Ron Capps, a 25 year Army Veteran, will head the program:
Capps’ goal, based on his lengthy military career, is to get the troops to confront their fears and learn to cope with them. A central focus of his writing career includes care for returning veterans, particularly those in need of mental health care, and writing as therapy.
“Writing [allows you] to take a memory that might be stuck in the back of your mind, make it physical and shape it,” he explained. “Eventually you understand it’s a memory and it can’t hurt you anymore.”
Health conditions such as traumatic brain injuries and psychological health issues are now known as the “signature wounds” of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, officials said. The NICoE’s healing program is for active-duty service members with these signature wounds who might return to duty.
The program will be evaluated on its effectiveness and may see wider distribution at Defense and VA facilities. But why wait to write? There are plenty of blogging platforms to get you writing fast and free. I began to write before I even left for Iraq, and it helped me sort out my thoughts and feelings when I was there—and the long road of reintegration the months and years following my deployment.