On August 28th we sponsored Pastoral Training for local clergy to help them to be better equipped when addressing issues faced by our community due to the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These skills will be (and in some cases, already are) used both in and outside of their congregations.
Our main presenter was Rebecca G. Townsend, Ed.S, a school psychologist and specialist in Deployment Psychology. In addition, she is the founder of S.A.F.E (Soldiers and Families Embraced), a program that offers counseling services to Veterans and their Families. Dr. Townsend covered subject areas such as military lifestyles and terminology, deployment issues both at home and overseas, and dealing with the “aftermath” such as reintegration and readjustment to being home. We also had two Guest Speakers- Mrs Claire Teter, a military spouse who spoke about the unique challenges faced by families when loved ones are deployed. She also specifically addressed areas attendees could focus on to help military families emotionally and spiritually, as well as with helping to fill gaps in counseling and other services. SFC (Retired) Don McCasland spoke to the group from the deployed Soldier’s perspective. Mr. McCasland was in the Army for over 21 years and deployed to Iraq three times with the 101st Airborne Division. He shared his personal story of exactly what military members face on a daily basis, and the far-reaching and potentially life changing effects of traumatic experiences on not only Soldiers, but on families as well. Attendees were able to ask questions for the benefit of the group, and were also able to speak with the presenters one-on-one during lunch and following the seminar with more specific questions and comments.
Overwhelmingly, the participants were in agreement that this training is not only much needed for Clergy, but within the community as a whole.