After the War: University Counseling Group Formed for Community Veterans


KETR Photo

Closing Ceremony for 2014’s Veterans Vigil at A&M-Commerce

Todd Kleiboer, Web Editor

A new veteran’s support group has recently formed on campus through the Community Counseling and Psychology Clinic and focuses on group therapy for veterans of the Global War on Terror.

“What it is is a group that will focus on the issues of reintegration from military life back into civilian life, school life, family, employment,” Clinician Mr. David Sieg, who will lead the group sessions, said. “And we’re going to cover a variety of domains for this.”

The veteran’s support group will be completely composed of veterans, even those who will lead the sessions, but the group will start out small at first.

“I’m a veteran myself, and I know what they go through,” Mr. Sieg sympathized. “So it’s going to be veteran-run, and Dr. Ball [Associate Professor of Psychology] is going oversee the entire process. When I graduate here, I will hand this over to someone else that’s qualified that can take care of the group.”

“I’m not a veteran,”Dr. Ball said simply. “I’m going to defer to David and trust his judgment in these matters.”

When coming back, veterans often face troubles at home and in work that stem from the vast differences between military life to civilian life. This group’s intent is to smooth those issues.

“They [veterans] have problems with gaining employment, keeping jobs because a lot of jobs are not so structured like the military was. When they get out here and they don’t have that structure to go on with, they step back and say ‘Wow, this is kind of messed up. This should be like that’,” Mr. Sieg clarified. “Well, in the civilian world, it’s like that.”

The Global War on Terror started on Sept.11, 2001 and has lasted until the present, and there are no other groups on campus that have targeted this group of veterans before this one.

“We don’t want to leave other veterans out, but we need to do something specific here,” Mr. Sieg explained. “Since this war we’re in now is a ongoing thing, it’s the soldiers today coming back that are more of our focus.”

Foreign deployment to a combat zone during the Global War on Terror is not required to participate in the group sessions, and the veterans that were home-stationed during their service are welcome.

“The focus of the group is such that a lot of veterans get out of the military and find that civilian life is a lot less structured than the military,” Mr. Sieg said. “Couple that with PTSD or depression or anxiety or anything like that, and it can create a real problem for them.”

Students are not the only people who can attend the group sessions. Because this is the Community Counseling Center, nearby veterans can also make use of this service.

“It’s not going to just limited to students. I mean, this is the Community Counseling Center,” Mr. Sieg said. “If there are veterans out here from the Global War on Terror, those are the veterans we’re focusing on.”

Faculty were the first to show interest in creating the new veteran’s support group, but general community interest has yet be gauged because of the newness of the group.

“Everybody on the faculty we’ve talked like Fred Fuentes, who is a veteran as well, thinks it’s an excellent idea,” Mr. Sieg stated. “The other veteran’s groups here on campus all think it’s a good idea to have this.”

If this veteran’s support group does well, the number people in the group could increase next semester, and Mr. Sieg stresses that interested people sign up as soon as possible.

“We have a lot of veterans going to this university. There’s a lot of veterans in Commerce, and unfortunately we’re not going to be able to house the masses. It has to be a first-come, first-serve thing.”

The group meets on Tuesday nights 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the clinic (Binion 101), and those who are interested should bring their DD214 discharge papers to Tabitha Triplett in Binion Hall where the Community Counseling Center is located.

“The space is going to be limited. We’re limiting ourselves to 12 people,” Mr. Sieg said. “It’s open to all sexes, all races, all religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter as long as they were in the Global War on Terror. It’s also free of charge for veterans because we believe that they’ve already paid the price for it.”