Program Equips Law Enforcement and Clinicians with Tools to Understand Military Veterans

Veteran Experts Launch ‘Combat to Community’ Training

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Our goal is not to give veterans a ‘get out of jail free card,’ but rather to make sure that the population is understood. Because veterans make up less than one percent of the population, there is often a lack of cultural competency

San Francisco (Vocus) July 20, 2010

More veterans are returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, some struggling with transition to civilian life and the invisible wounds of war.

Swords to Plowshares’ new training program, Combat to Community, provides law enforcement personnel, clinicians and service providers with the resources they need to successfully work with the veteran population.

Combat to Community is designed to improve the ability of police officers and clinicians to work with young veterans with PTSD and other mental health disorders. In so doing, we hope to increase officers' ability to recognize veterans, maximize officers' safety and effectiveness when interacting with veterans, minimize critical incidents and poor outcomes, and increase officers' ability to direct veterans toward appropriate treatment rather than incarceration. In the clinical context, awareness of military and veteran culture and the realities of deployment improves communication between client and provider.

The goal of the curriculum is to increase awareness and understanding of the issues relevant to the military veteran such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and domestic violence (DV) and provide clinicians and law enforcement with practical tools they need to interact with young veterans.

“Often the reality is that these men and women are coping with symptoms of PTSD and TBI with drugs, alcohol and a host of issues that can lead to incarceration,” says Amy Fairweather, policy director at Swords to Plowshares and the Iraq Veteran Project
The training program, developed by experts at the veteran service agency Swords to Plowshares in San Francisco and clinicians from the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is free of charge for local participants. Already, more than 700 California law enforcement personnel and clinicians have participated in the training.

“This type of training is invaluable as more veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Officers will be better equipped to provide services to them after they have served us and our country," said Teresa Irvin, Detective II Los Angeles Police Department.

“Our goal is not to give veterans a ‘get out of jail free card,’ but rather to make sure that the population is understood. Because veterans make up less than one percent of the population, there is often a lack of cultural competency,” says Fairweather.

For more information, visit http://www.combattocommunity.org
About Swords to Plowshares
Founded in 1974, Swords to Plowshares is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides counseling and case management, employment and training, housing and legal assistance to homeless and low-income veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area. We promote and protect the rights of veterans through advocacy, public education, and partnerships with local, state and national entities. Learn more about the work of Swords to Plowshares, and ways in which you can help, by visiting our website at http://www.stp-sf.org.

About the National Center for PTSD
The National Center for PTSD was developed with the ultimate purpose to improve the wellbeing, status, and understanding of veterans in American society. The Center is an integral and valued component of the Office of Mental Health Services (OMHS), which itself is within the Veterans Health Administration. The OMHS and the National Center for PTSD receive important budget support from VA, although the National Center also leverages this support through successful competition for extramural research funding. For more information, visit http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/index.asp

For more information, please contact:
Colleen Corliss
Office: 415-655-7248; Mobile: 202-415-6101 (media only)

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