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Excela Health programs help veterans deal with guilt, grief

Tribune-Review - 5/15/2017

May 15--Acceptance of what veterans did during their time in combat -- that they did what was asked of them -- and understanding the need for them to tell their stories are important elements in helping veterans heal from the emotional wounds of war.

"I believe it is really a necessity ... just a first step to helping heal the injured souls," said Maureen Ceidro, bereavement counselor for Excela Home Health and Hospice.

"Trauma-Focused Therapy for Veterans: Tending to the Needs of the Soul and the Spirit" was a presentation Ceidro gave before about 25 social workers and counselors last week at Excela Square at Norwin.

Ceidro said Veterans Administration hospitals have found storytelling to be very helpful to veterans recovering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The counselors deal with veterans who are suffering from what now is being called "soul injury," Ceidro said.

"It is a disconnection from part of the self. They are carrying guilt and grief," Ceidro said.

The counselors who deal with the veterans are "seeing the guilt and shame they are carrying and how it is impacted their life once they are home," Ceidro said.

"We're trying to reintegrate them so that it is no longer a burden that they carry," Ceidro said.

Excela Health has been involved in a program, "We Honor Veterans," that was established through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association.

The hospice program is participating in different acts to honor veterans who are experiencing the end of life, said James Joyce, manager of Excela's hospice and palliative care program.

Carla Colello, who has been an Excela Health bereavement counselor for nine years, said she has noticed they are seeing more veterans than in the past.

"We're trying to identify who the veterans are who need help," Colello said.

It has been easier to identify those veterans who need this kind of assistance when the veterans are admitted as patients, Joyce said.

Excela Health's hospice program is seeing more Korean and Vietnam War veterans who are facing end of life issues, Joyce said.

"We're trying to learn as much as we can to help them," Joyce said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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