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Arthur-based group offers PTSD program for veterans

by Jaime Myslik

ARTHUR - A local not-for-profit organization is set to offer a pilot program for veterans and military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

“Some people will say well, you can’t heal it, you can’t treat it,” said Mission Butterfly chair Darlene DeStefano of Arthur. 

“That’s not true. It’s treatable, it’s beatable.”

After about two years of organizing, Mission Butterfly is set to hold its first Healing Invisible Wounds session for veterans and military personnel with PTSD this fall, with participant intake occurring until Aug. 31. 

Healing doesn’t mean getting rid of memories, DeStefano stressed.

“You can’t erase a memory... what we do and what heals PTSD is severing the emotion attached to the traumatic event,”  she said.

She explained there are a number of treatment options for those with PTSD. 

“We’re going to include everything from a mind, body, spirit perspective and we look at whole health,” she said, adding the program even includes nature and nutrition components.

The 17-member Mission Butterfly team consists of psychologists, psychiatrists, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, pharmacists, social workers and other trained professionals to provide programming for participants. 

“With all that they are getting in the program ... our whole team feels very confident we are going to have a very high success rate,” DeStefano said. 

“I’m very excited. It’s been a long haul getting here and we’re finally here.”

For the pilot program, DeStefano said Mission Butterfly’s Healing Invisible Wounds is open to 18 veterans and Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

Participants must be diagnosed with or have symptoms of PTSD. 

The pilot program is fully funded by the Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. 

Veterans and military personnel can apply to be part of the Healing Invisible Wounds program until Aug. 31. In September the organization will evaluate all applicants. 

“You have to be 100% committed in that you want to heal,” DeStefano said. 

The sessions will begin in October in the Arthur area and will consist of four three- and four-day weekends over a 10-week period. 

“You need to have processing time in between - it doesn’t work otherwise,” DeStefano said.

On the fourth weekend veterans’ families will accompany them to the session. Once the weekend sessions are complete the veterans will receive follow-up support for a year. 

Some of the sessions veterans and military personnel can participate in include: psychosocial education, nature, family, spiritual, equine therapy, neuroscientific techniques, lifestyle and relationship dynamics, mind/body exercises and integrative therapies.

DeStefano said the program aims to offer measurable outcomes, with participants receiving an evaluation before the session begins, after 10 weeks and after about 11 months to measure the successes.

She said ideally she’d like to see an 80% success rate.  

“The pilot is always the first one where you see what’s the greatness and where’s the weakness,” she said. 

“And then from there you start to improve the program until it’s down pat and ... that is the point where everybody else needs to know what’s been going on so that they can change their programs.

“It’s not about who has the best program. It’s about helping these people, whether they’re veterans, or they’re first responders or whether [civilians], it doesn’t really matter. That is a wide issue, the PTSD.”

DeStefano said she hopes to extend the program to first responders and their families in the near future.

Veterans and military personnel interested in applying for the program can visit missionbutterfly.ca for information.

August 11, 2017

 
 

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