MILITARY

HARKER HEIGHTS — The Veteran Spouse Resiliency Group held its first local meeting this week at Charlie Greene Memorial Hall in Harker Heights.

The group is a pilot program that will be studied for effectiveness by collecting group feedback from two sessions — this fall and next spring — comprised of different participants for each group.

The Veteran Spouse Resiliency Group pilot program is sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work to support the spouses of veterans. Its mission is to provide spouses with a direct resource and safe space to discuss personal issues and solutions to unique military-related problems they’re confronted with due to a spouse’s military service.

Hot discussion topics include self-care, long-term combat-caused issues and disability of spouses, caregiving and marriage.

“You only share what you feel like sharing,” said Veteran Spouse Resiliency Group co-facilitator Michaela Jaimez regarding the expected dynamic of group meetings where difficult subjects are expected to be discussed. “It’s a safe space for us spouses, partners of veterans, to share our stories … It’s about us knowing that we’re not alone.”

“You’re among friends. Whatever we talk about stays here,” said Doris Williams, a facilitator with the group.

“The main goal of the pilot program is to see if this is something that spouses want, and then maybe expand it to active-duty spouses and spouses of veterans that are deceased so that we can help all spouses,” said Williams.

Younger, more recently discharged veterans and family members need to join organizations that support veterans because the support that is now being provided was fought for by veterans who fought in earlier wars, like Vietnam, said Williams.

Williams also pointed out that a lack of participation could mean diminished availability of support services for future veterans and veteran family members.

The initial meeting in Harker Heights served as an introduction to the program and member meet-and-greet. The meeting leads the pilot program as the first site to begin sessions in Texas. Games were played, door prizes were given out, refreshments were served, and visitors were given the opportunity to sign up for the program.

The fall sessions begin Tuesday. Twelve sessions make up one program, but the veteran spouse network fostered during sessions are expected to provide long-term support.

The other pilot sites will launch their meetings up until the beginning of November. Other pilot program locations include Copperas Cove and Austin.

There are openings for interested veteran spouses with a minimum of eight participants for an official site to hold a group, and desired maximum of 10-12 participants per group. Veteran spouses unable to find entry into a fall group will be put on a wait list or should plan to attend a second group session that will begin in early 2019. Applications for the spring 2019 groups are due by Dec. 17.

Visit www.facebook.com/VeteranSpouseNetwork or sites.utexas.edu/mvfp/vsrg to learn more about sessions, qualifications for participation, and to find a group and sign up.

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