Jessica Lord Photo 1Veterans are an important part of the community. Veterans not only have to adjust when they go abroad but also when they come home and step back into normal life. Veterans Heart Georgia acknowledges that and works to build a relationship between veterans and the community. 

The organization was launched on Veterans Day 2007 by a group of military combat veterans primarily from the Vietnam era, their families, professional counselors, and clinical social workers. They came together with dreams of helping to heal the effects of war in veterans, their families and their communities. Since their creation, they have become an award winning nonprofit organization throughout the state of Georgia, even stretching to Carrollton and UWG. The mission of the organization is highly reflected from works of art by Edward Tick called War and the Soul, and Warriors Return as well as books by Jonathan Shay. These titles touch on how to welcome veterans back home and help heal from the effects of war. The founders became committed to assure that some of the negative effects of returning veterans from the vietnam war would not be made again by generations of combat veterans.   

“A critical part of the mission is education. We hosts major conferences and workshops for civilian counselors, therapists, advisors, clergy, and others in the civilian community that address “The Warrior’s Journey,” along with particular issues related to the combat veteran’s transition from military to civilian life,” said Secretary and Treasurer John Caravella. They honor and support service members and their families through community based services. They work with the communities of Georgia to bring services to servicemembers, veterans and their families. Such as consultation with counselors, clergy, and mental health clinicians. As well as workshops, programs, training, and mentoring. 

The organization has four main beliefs. “First, there is healing for the invisible wounds of war. Second, core work is the nurturing of a positive warrior identity. Third, that the suffering of families must be addressed. Fourth; that the citizens of our communities, those who are protected and guarded, must share the burden of the wounds of those who have gone to war,” according to their website.  

 Community is a major aspect of the organization. Therefore, they have created their own approach to building relationships between the community and veterans. That program is called Just Listening. 

Just Listening is a “participative discussion group for veterans of all wars, family members, concerned civilians, counselors, and clergy who seek emotional and spiritual healing from the effects of military service and war,” said Caravella. This group offers participants to meet and talk without judgment and gives veterans a chance to tell their stories. UWG College of Social Science collaborated with the Veterans Heart Georgia to bring Just Listening circle right here to Carrollton, Georgia. The Just Listening program is open to service members, veterans, their family members, helping professionals and caring citizens. It is a place for all to come together and listen, understand, and address together the effects of war that touch everyone. Because of these groups, it allows everyone to become part of the process that is focused to help gain a full return and healing for the effects of war. This is a chance for the entire community to share the burden and develop a unique understanding of what those in the service go through at home and abroad. 

The Just Listening circle is held the second Tuesday of every month at Carrollton Presbyterian Church near Adamson Square from 7-9 p.m. For more information on the Veterans Heart Georgia organization visit www.veteransheartgeorgia.org.

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