The Pathway Home, Inc. is a private, non-profit residential treatment program for combat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). While its residential clients are men who have served in combat, The Pathway Home also works with the family members of those men to help support the needs of the family.
Family members may include spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, and other extended relatives. After five years of programmatic operation, what has become clear to our treatment team, is that these family members are all at risk of vicarious traumatization, which occurs when they bear witness to the stories and experiences their military loved ones experienced during deployment. These family members then also experience further trauma and stress as they try to cope with a family member struggling with PTS. All too often, this means watching the veteran deteriorate psychologically; engaging in self-medication through alcohol and other drugs; losing interest in daily activities; suffering from nightmares and loss of sleep; and, becoming verbally or physically aggressive.
Throughout these stressful experiences, family members have little to no resources available to them. Spouses are the only family members able to access any programs through the military or Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), leaving siblings, parents and other relatives with little to no support.
At present, it is conservatively estimated that at least 400,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will develop PTS. While services for these veterans are improving, there is work that remains to be done, including improving support services for these veterans’ family members. The vicarious traumatization and increased stress experienced by these family members will become a public health issue, with family members becoming increasingly reliant on services like the police and education systems to find any kind of support to meet their needs.
Unfortunately, these systems are not equipped to meet the needs of these family members. For these reasons, The Pathway Home is seeking to establish The Family Support Program in Napa, Co. (California) as an open access and no-cost benefit to the local community to begin to address the needs these family members.
Funds received from this challenge (along with any additional awards from Newman's Own Foundation), will enable The Family Support Program to target family members of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) / Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans struggling with PTS in the Napa Valley and surrounding communities.
Thank you for lending us a hand to support not only the veterans of our community but their loved ones as well.