The Veteran Trauma Support
& Recovery Program

veterans counseling

Petaluma People Services Center is the first of many community based organizations trained in the trauma treatment protocols of the Bernstein Institute for Trauma Treatment to help our service men and women return to healthy, productive functioning in our communities. This program offers an expansion of what others have successfully done with peer-to-peer counseling, by purposefully incorporating into the treatment protocol the participation of a returning veteran who has a desire to follow a career path as a trained therapist or social worker. Peer-to-peer trust is the basis of unit cohesion in all branches of the military, especially those with combat responsibilities.

Numerous post-combat studies have shown that “fear of letting your buddy down” is far greater than “fear of injury of death” among combat soldiers and Marines. In short, peer-to-peer trust and loyalty is what keeps service members in combat. For fear of letting down their “foxhole buddy”, soldiers and Marines “gut it out and fight.” A majority of veterans report that one of main challenges they face when attempting to re-integrate in civilian life is the loss of the close bonds with their former comrades and others their small unit – usually a squad or platoon. By providing battlefield veterans as counselors and mentors, our peer concept will help the client form the initial, critical bond essential to keeping client returning for subsequent phases of treatment.

We are specifically recruiting combat vets (i.e., Navy SEALS) to serve as clinically-supervised “peers” for veteran clients, with the goal to create a safe environment. This safe environment will retain the veteran in a program of therapy and counseling long enough to experience real healing. Longer-term retention of clients will also help us develop and perfect a training and dissemination program for the Veteran Trauma Support & Recovery Program protocols and also to create a sustainable, replicable program that can be utilized across our nation in years to come. Participation in treatment also offers service members who are looking for a new career an opportunity to obtain the required hours of internship training by teaming a peer counselor with a supervising therapist. Our program will offer peer-to-peer treatment and career opportunities not normally obtainable for returning veterans.