HEALING JOURNEY: November 8th, 2015
Not only did veterans experience the healing process, but also civilians. Many of the civilians on this journey were spouses, children or relatives of veterans who sought to understand what their loved ones experienced in war. The healing is in the journey and not complete, but warriors who experience it now have new tools and a supportive community of friends to walk the journey with them. The success of this process has encouraged us to grow and refine the journey.
Both St. Francis and Jose suffered PTSD and from the wounds of war. Jose was blessed by the story of Francis and what he did in his recovery.
KCBX RADIO SHOW: March17th, 2016
Fr. Mike Cicinato and veterans Pete Pepper and Bob Denney veterans who made the Healing Journey November of 2015, appeared on a radio show on KCBX FM in San Luis Obispo. Peter Sternberg, co-author with Fr. Mike of the Healing Journey program, joined us by phone from Chicago. The discussions centered around the Healing Journey and the Central Coast Veterans Helping Veterans Mentor Program for the San Luis Obispo Veterans Treatment Court. The show was entitled, “A Way Back Home” and can be accessed under that name at http://kcbx.org/programs/central-coast-voices
HEALING JOURNEY: April 17th, 2016
This journey included Active Duty Soldiers as well as Veterans. The latest evidence based research shows that this type of program works very successfully with Active Duty Soldiers. It decreases the levels of PTSD and gives them an additional sense of connection at home that makes them safer and better soldiers. This enables us to expand our program as well as to help our Active Duty Warriors. On this journey we had Veterans from the Korean War to the present.
What was different about this journey was the presence of Active Duty Soldiers. One of our VA Therapists pointed out that evidence based research shows that a program such as this eases the PTSD in a soldier and gives them a real sense of connection at home. They prove to be better, safer soldiers in combat situations. The support of Vets who had “been there, done that” was also helpful.
Feed back on our April 2016 Journey Home
These are the comments we received from the Vets to the question: “What was most useful about this journey?”
• Openness, kindness, and love.
• Last ceremony felt great – Welcoming Back Ceremony.
• Connections we made as human beings; vets and civilians.
• Opening up with others.
• Realizing the immense pain our Vets carry (non-combatant Vet)
• Understanding that civilians are people too.
• Making friends and renewing friendships.
• The love and compassion shown by the leadership and constant reassurance of our needs and fears that we are not alone and will not be judged.
• It is always an incredible honor to be a part of these journeys.
These are the comments we received from the Civilians to the question: “What was most useful about this journey?”
• Love and trust was shared with all.
• Reading War and the Soul by Dr. Ed Tick before the journey.
• Unpacking the Rucksack by the Vets.
• The vivid wound ritual and owning the wounds as our civilian responsibility – sharing the wounds.
• Understanding how deployment impacts soldiers and their families.
• The purpose and mission to hold each other.
• Learning the perspectives of the veterans..
• A new, eye-opening experience.
• Feeling that the Veterans and Civilians left with an experience they will share with others who can then better understand the effects of PTSD.
HEALING JOURNEY: November 13th - 17th, 2016
We continued to refine the experience and also had a number of returnees. The returnees related to us that they experienced a better sense of healing and a deeper sense of belonging.
One of our returnees sent the following: “I want to thank you for getting me to the journey. The upgrades and improvements seemed to make things clearer. Being around veterans makes me feel better about myself. I really wish I could speak out so people could understand how much I have been helped. I just can’t talk about it yet. These sessions seemed a little harder on me than last time. Your organization has made it easier to stay on track. I am so grateful for being able to talk with some of the veterans and civilians. Your caring makes us care and gives us hope.Thank you so much for your help. Up here I am kind of isolated up here and it makes me feel involved. I hope in the future I can be of help to you. I am willing to do anything I can do to help. Thank You again because I feel so good.”
Other comments from the November 2016 Journey were:
Receiving a deeper understanding of the civilian side of the relationship.
Being able to open up.
The incremental approach to the theme and the way that it is woven together.
Unpacking the rucksack/telling our stories, sharing our wounds.
A gathering of like-minded people.
Finding peope whose experience and disillusionment are similar to my own.
Being able to talk to other veterans.
Being in a circle where I felt calm and relaxed.
Down-time for reflection and prayer.
Recognition of some issues that I didn’t even realize that I had.
I really loved the groups, the interaction was great.
HEALING JOURNEY: November 12th - 16th, 2017
Like the Healing Journey’s of the past, we continue to improve the process and ritual and this year was no exception. Integral in the journey are the tools of ritual and process. This year we had the privilege of having people making the Healing Journey who have particular skills in these areas and to be able to give us more insights and tools for the journey. The “editing” of the program will never end, nor should it. There is always more to be learned. There are many approaches to the healing process for PTSD and we feel we can take pride in what we offer thanks not only to people with healing skills, but especially to our veterans who offer us the best insights into dealing with the wounds of Post Traumatic Soul Distress, Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma. Special thanks to all of you who have contributed your insights.
Unique to this Healing Journey: this Healing Journey had more non-combat vets and only a couple on post-Vietnam vets. We went more deeply into the issues of “non-combat guilt” and “survivors guilt.” More vets delved into pre-service issues and as a result there was a deeper connection with civilians and more healing.
Feedback from the Participants:
The journey “was inclusive–those holding space for the veterans could also share their wounds.” Passing on my wounds to the civilians and seeing them carry our wounds took a burden off of me.” “Connecting with my story and other’s stories.” “I am not the same person who arrived–will never be. Truly grateful for this new found freedom.” “Grateful for the unpacking of my burden–my war–and much of what had not been recognized in myself, or at least, poorly recognized.” “Was able to bond with folks who were complete strangers before Day 1, and able to open up to and share feelings suppressed for years.” Veteran: “Feeling comfortable and safe.” “Being honored hearing the stories from veterans.” “Never thought it would be this powerful–amazing!” : “I had to own my own compliance/responsibility in the work of the military and our vets.”