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Understanding Trauma - Summer Series

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- "We have been to war, we deploy, we go to disasters," 139th Airlift Wing Director of Psychological Health (DPH) Phil Pringle said, "It's just a matter of time before those in helping professions [assist healing for sufferers who have experienced] a traumatic event."

The new summer lecture series entitled "Understanding Trauma" attempts to shed light on what trauma is and how to work through it from a Christian psychological perspective. The series is being organized by Pringle and the chaplain's office with support from the family readiness program and sexual assault response coordinator. There will be guest speakers in June, July, and August.

Trauma can change a person's world view; it creeps in and snatches away an individual's sense of safety. It can also affect the entire person on an emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental level. Pringle points out that if they can do the training before the traumatic experience, the training kicks in; it's a proactive approach. It's also the right thing to do according to 139th Airlift Wing Chaplain Lt. Col. Father Tom Ludwig.

"We're a family," said Ludwig, "We take care of each other. We send folks off to war all the time. But, what do we do when they come back?...to me [this support] is something that we can offer to people to let them know that they are still part of our family and your wellbeing is very important to us, so whatever you've experienced, we want to help you get through that."

This series has grown from the success of the stress management series organized for the full time staff last year by the Chaplain's office and the DPH.

"As the wing DPH, it's part of my role to promote things like this, but specifically, when we did the stress management series [on] Fridays for everybody that works here full time, the senior leaders said 'hey, that's great, that was good'... in the back of my mind I'm thinking, we have to come back to this, and the commanders have given us that open door," said Pringle.

It's not just a lecture, Pringle stresses, it's training.  He points out that it is a psychological series, and Ludwig adds that there is more to it.

"It's spiritual and emotional too," Ludwig said, "There is even a physical aspect of it. I was thinking more in terms of personal wellbeing.  If you're psychologically down, you're going to be physically down, if you're physically down, you can be psychologically down."

Pringle and Ludwig both agree that it is about understanding trauma from the whole person perspective.

The three scheduled speakers are Summer Ward, a licensed professional councilor in St. Joseph, Mo., Dr. Corey Schliep, executive director of Christ First Counseling Center, and Debra Meyers, an equine therapy specialist with Christ First Counseling Center. The speakers will give their presentations in the medical training room on Sunday of each drill starting in June.

Summer Ward is a trauma specialist certified by the national trauma center organization. She is trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and a member of the American Counseling Association and the American Association of Christian Counselors. She has a Bachelor's degree in Development and Family studies and a Master's Degree in Christian Counseling. Her practice is rooted in the Christian faith and world view. She will speak on June 7 at 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Corey Schliep will speak on July 12 at 2:30 p.m. He is going to share a specific treatment protocol called Eye, Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing (EMDR).  This treatment is approved by the Department of Veteran Affairs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). EMDR is also being used as a psychological treatment for panic attacks, eating disorders, addiction, and anxiety. It uses motion and sound to mentally reprogram negative memories through directed triggering. Dr. Schliep has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and corrections with minors in psychology, sociology and human services. His Master's Degree and Ph.D. are in Clinical Counseling, and Marriage and Family Therapy.  He practices with a Christian world view and is an Adjunct Professor at the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Debra Meyers is certified in equine assisted psychotherapy. Equine assisted therapy is used by some Veteran's Administration therapists to help patients work through PTSD.  Other than equine assisted therapy, she specializes in domestic violence issues, individual, couples and family therapy. She will speak on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 2:30 p.m. Meyers holds a bachelor's of applied science in addiction counseling and a master's of social work. 

The series is open to all 139th Airlift Wing members. For more information about the 139th Airlift Wing visit http://www.139aw.ang.af.mil/.