Group Helps Troops, Families Cope

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2007 - The stress of deployments, especially during war time, can take a toll on servicemembers and their families. A group of licensed mental health professionals in Southern California is helping to minimize that impact, however.

"'The Soldiers Project' offers free, no-red-tape psychological counseling to any servicemember who has served in (Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom)," said Barbara Schochet, assistant director for the organization.

Currently the project serves Los Angeles and Orange Counties, but plans are to eventually expand its service area.

Despite the group's name, servicemembers from all branches of the military who have served in operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom are eligible to take advantage of the project's service. Servicemembers' family members and loved ones also are eligible for free counseling prior to and during deployment and after homecoming, Schochet said.

"We want to support the families while their loved one is away, and we want to help with reintegration and combat stress issues when they return," she said.

To maximize the effects of the services, all sessions are free and there is no limit to the number of sessions offered.

The counselors offering their time include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists. They are required to attend training sessions to learn about post-traumatic stress disorder and what families endure when their servicemembers are gone.

The organization also has a group of speakers who can talk about the project and how to identify problems in patients, clients, schools, congregations or service groups, Schochet said.

The Soldiers Project is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

*Related Sites:*
The Soldiers Project  [ ]
Group Helps Troops, Families Cope [ ]