9 ways VA helps you be a better parent

Jonathan Kaupanger
August 08, 2018 - 2:35 pm

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Parenting is tough on a good day.  Add in a war or a parent working through Post Traumatic Stress issues and it’s even tougher.  Surprisingly, there is help for veteran parents at the VA.  

“When President Lincoln was talking about veterans, he also spoke about the spouses and children of veterans as being important,” says Dr. Shirley Glynn, a clinical research psychologist with VA’s Family Services section. 

Glynn says many veterans returning from the wars in the Middle East report specific challenges to parenting.  These issues range from added family duties and responsibilities to feeling overwhehelmed with concern, worry and panic, or even just being the type of parent they want to be.

Hoping to help these veterans, VA began hiring outside mental health clinicians, many of them with expertise and sensitivities to family and children issues.  

These are some of the resources they now provide to veteran parents: 

Shelley Fenstermacher, a psychologist with VHA Mental Illness Research Education Clinical Center explains the Parenting2Go app helps you stop and slow down just by using your smartphone. 

“Say you’re a parent in the moment and could use a timeout,” explains Fenstermacher. “Resources are embedded in the app, so you can access a deep breathing exercise and give yourself a chance to step away if you’re feeling a bit stressed.”

Help is also available for veteran families through VA’s Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).  VA has staff in these clinics who are trained in family therapies. “We’re particularly interested in promoting community integration,” Glynn says, “which is basically people thriving where they live and where they are, instead of just being at a clinic.  We are treating the veteran holistically by paying attention to his or her social network.”   

Telehealth family therapy varies by location, but in many areas, you can access family interventions using VA’s telehealth program.

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