Dr. Alpern’s book is based on decades of work with veterans. It provides innovative new and practical treatment techniques for veterans. Each chapter offers the three targeted groups of readers (i.e family and friends of vets, mental health professionals and vets themselves) insights and practical tools for healthy transition from warrior to citizen.
Chapter one: “From Civilian to Veteran: How Vets got ‘that way’” describes the transformations veterans undergo from recruit to soldier, to combat warrior, to disabled veteran and reviews the causes and dynamics of psychological and moral wounding.
Chapter two: “The Wrong Way to Treat Vets” documents the failures and mistakes of large government programs, universities and agency vet programs that were created to heal vets but have been largely unsuccessful.
Chapter three: “The Right Way to Treat Vets” offers effective and valid ways to understand and help veterans. It focuses on the miraculous effects of utilizing vets in creative ways to heal fellow vets, and concludes with information on how communities play a critical role in effecting the successful adaptation of vets to civilian life.
Chapter four: “The Huts for Vets Story” tells how one innovative wilderness program was developed, how it operates, and how it has become outstandingly successful. That program highlights the use of vets in the dramatic healing of fellow vets. The program also demonstrates the proven usefulness of wilderness for healing. The chapter further describes how structured readings and discussions can be therapeutically beneficial. The reading excepts used for the wilderness trips are provided in the chapter.
Chapter five: “Three Peer Oriented Treatment Modalities” combines the information from the first three chapters to fashion and report on three methods utilizing vets as the primary instrument for helping other vets. All three groups of readers can gain specific tools for helping the vets they care about from this chapter
Chapter six: “Peer Mental Health Professionals” provides the reasons and methods for transforming talented vets into primary treatment providers for their comrades. Resources for gaining the essential education needed for optimal understanding and interacting with vets is described here specifically for each targeted group of readers.
Chapter seven: “Conclusions and Suggestions” transform the book’s information into a collection of down to earth suggestions offered separately for each group of readers. Following a summary of the major conclusions readers are guided to understand why each offered suggestion provides them with tools for dealing effectively with our wounded warriors.
The following excerpt from Chapter Two describes a happening during a 3 day wilderness trip with other vets.
“They bond with fellow vets, feel they are finally among understanding “brothers” or “sisters,” and can verbalize the horrible things that they’ve not only seen but, worse, found themselves doing. It was on my initial wilderness trip that I first watched one vet, a former marine sergeant, visibly shake with emotion as he told of how he repeatedly slaughtered innocent civilians. The story began with how his regular patrols involved gathering up groups of suspected civilians and delivering them back to central command for interrogation. However, early on he discovered that some who were released following interrogation were later discovered to be combatants who returned to kill his fellow soldiers. He ended the story by simply saying, “I never again brought anyone back for interrogation.”
Everyone around the fire understood that he simply killed every suspected civilian he encountered on patrol. The universal response of the listening vets went beyond acceptance. He was cheered. I’m relating this particular story as it illustrates the repeated slaughtering of large numbers of civilians for a reason that many veterans, even non-combat vets, may be able to identify with and understand. Understandable or not, that marine suffered the kind of retrospective massive guilt that has turned so many of our brave warriors into non-functioning, suicidal vets.”
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