Until recently, the main things I knew about “Reconnection Workshops” were that they were for Veterans/Active Duty/Reserves [as well as family members of Veterans/Active Duty/Reserves]; and they were provided free-of-charge by the Red Cross, an organization that has put itself out there, offered relief in times of disaster, and extended its helping hand around the world for more than a century. The American Red Cross was established in 1881 by Clara Barton, hailed as “… one of the most honored women in American history for being a true pioneer as well as an outstanding humanitarian.” (read more)
Each Reconnection Workshop focuses on a topic area that service members and their families have found relevant to their experience as they transition back home. They include: Working Through Anger, Communicating Clearly, Exploring Stress and Trauma, Identifying Depression, and Relating To Children. Since TexVet’s mission includes finding valuable resources for Texas Veterans, we were very pleased to host workshops in the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock, where our offices are located. I registered for the first two workshops that came along.
Our facilitator [as is the case with multiple Red Cross volunteers] saw the value in the program, went through the training, and volunteered his personal time to facilitate groups. He believed in it enough to fly in from Arkansas! His demeanor immediately put participants at ease, inviting the group to sit in a circle. He said he didn’t want a table separating us; and he didn’t want to separate himself from us. He just wanted us to have some conversation. And so we did. The first two sessions hosted at TexVet dealt with communication and anger. Did I think I had a problem with either? No. Did I benefit from the two sessions? Yes. Both workshops offered an opportunity for self-evaluation, and I left with some valuable materials that I will review and use.
Reconnection Workshops provide participants with a different perspective – looking at where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to go. Soldiers are coming home to their families who were left at home and had to keep on going without their Soldiers there. Like it or not – admit it or not – transition demands tough readjustments, for both the Soldiers and for their family members. Veterans who fought 30 years ago are still carrying heavy burdens - some from Da Nang. These memories can result in guilt, inhibit communication, and prevent healing. Resentments and misunderstanding slither in - uninvited and unwelcomed. A natural consequence. Reconnection Workshops allow participants the opportunity to see it for what it is, see it from a different perspective, and move on freely.
What I want to convey, simply and with as few words as possible, is this: register! Register for a workshop if one comes anywhere near you. They are free and available in multiple locations, including McKinney, Baton Rouge, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Pampa, Powderly, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Amarillo, and Shreveport. Visit TexVet.org and simply type the word “Reconnection” on our search box. Or email Michael.Chaison@redcross.org for information.