to Families of All Reservists
The goal of SOFAR is to provide a flexible and diverse range of psychological services to military families to:
- foster stabilization
- help prevent crises, and
- help manage acute problems
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Harvard Honors SOFAR's Co-Founders
Cambridge — Cambridge Health Alliance psychologists and Harvard Medical School faculty members Jaine Darwin, PsyD, and Kenneth Reich, EdD, recently received a 2010 Dean's Community Service Award from Harvard Medical School for their efforts to provide mental health support for the families of servicemen and women. Read More>>>
March 19, 2010. Supporting our Military Servicemen, Servicewomen, and Their Children
"This resolution requests that all NLGA (National Lieutenant Governors Association) members work with the respective Governors and Administrations to increase outreach to school personnel such as guidance councilors, teachers, nurses, and encourage that the SOFAR guide be distributed to all of these first responders so they can be ready to help children in need.
I urge you to share this information and through your interstate connections within the NLGA or through Veterans’ Departments so we can all learn each others best practices – with a goal of helping every single returning veteran and their family members to the best of our ability." –Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, March 19, 2010
Lieutenant Governor Murray Presents Resolution to Support Schools, Children, and Military Families
On Friday March 19, 2010 Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray presented a resolution before the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association (NLGA) to support military families, schools, and children.
After receiving unanimous approval, the passage of this resolution directs states and territories to expand services by Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR), a New England based group that works in Massachusetts and Vermont to support families in the military.
The resolution calls for SOFAR’s helpful guide, a written resource for education professionals to help students with a family member that has been deployed, be distributed to schools and employees under the jurisdictions of the states and territories of NLGA members.
Patrick-Murray Administration Names January 15 ‘Massachusetts Supports Veterans and Families Day’
Honoring those who have volunteered their time to servicemen and women throughout the Commonwealth
Boston, MA – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, along with members of the Patrick-Murray Administration and two state Senators, today honored mental health service providers who have dedicated their time and expertise to counseling and supporting veterans and their families. A written proclamation announcing January 15 as Massachusetts Supports Veterans and Families Day was presented by Lieutenant Governor Murray.
“Everyday, thousands of the Commonwealth’s men and women are serving our country overseas and around the world,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “Now is the time for us at home to begin serving these brave service members and their families. We applaud organizations such as the VA Healthcare system, Give An Hour and SOFAR for their work in helping veterans. Governor Patrick and I encourage all Massachusetts residents and professionals to explore ways that they can help support our veterans and military families during their deployment and when they return home.”
Recently, The Special Commission to Study and Investigate the Hidden Wounds of War on Massachusetts Service Members recommended that Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray call upon members of the mental health community to volunteer their time and services to members of the military and their families. Two organizations specifically recognized by the Commission were Give an Hour and SOFAR (Strategic Outreach to Families of all Reservists).
“I am proud that we are honoring these individuals and organizations who are volunteering their time and services to the Commonwealth’s veterans. Every day, Massachusetts supports its veterans and their families through the great work being done at the federal, state, and local level. Now we have a day to commemorate our continued dedication,” said Veterans’ Services Secretary Tom Kelley.
“It is understandable that a veteran may be reluctant to ask for help when they are so accustomed to being the ones serving others. It is an act of courage for these servicemen and servicewomen to come forward and address the issues surrounding mental health. We have an opportunity today to recognize the important role mental health professionals play in easing the veteran’s transition from the battlefield back to their communities,” said Senator Thomas M. McGee (D-Lynn), Chair of the Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee. “I applaud the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for taking swift action on the Hidden Wounds Commission’s recommendation to encourage volunteerism among mental health community. This is an important next step in continuing to find ways to assist those who serve.”
“While this is a heartbreaking and extremely difficult issue to study, it is incredibly important that we learn about the hidden wounds of war that may affect our servicemembers’ return to civilian life. An unfortunate stigma has become associated with mental health issues and I strongly believe that it is our responsibility to not only support, but encourage, service members as they recover,” said Senator Brewer. (D-Barre) “I am proud of the Commonwealth’s work in this regard and would like to thank the Governor and the Lt. Governor, as well as my colleagues on the Commission, for taking this step forward for our veterans.”
Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of service members and their families. SOFAR is a pro bono mental health organizations working to provide free services to National Guard and Reserve families. The Department of Veterans’ Services has successfully worked with both organizations to refer veterans and family members for cost-free mental health services.
“We are all aware that a startling number of returning veterans suffer from PTSD and other trauma-related disorders and addiction,” said Department of Mental Health Commissioner Barbara Leadholm. “These factors put veterans and their families at risk for many psycho-social stressors such as homelessness and unemployment. We applaud our community partners, Give An Hour and SOFAR for their incredible work around the mental health and well being of our brave service members and their families.”
SOFAR Called to Help by Governor's Commission
On January 5, 2009, The Special Commission to Study and Investigate the Hidden Wounds of War on Massachusetts Service Members issued a final report.
The Commission Scope and Purpose
The Special Commission to Study and Investigate the Hidden Wounds of War on Massachusetts Service Members (Chapter 1 of the Resolves of 2008) was established on April 10, 2008. The Commission is charged with examining the mental health effects of war upon returning Massachusetts servicemembers and identifying best practices in the delivery of services to veterans. Excerpts from the report, requesting a partnership with SOFAR are included below.
Recommendation #3. Responsibility of Communities
The Commission recommends the following:
Mental Health Professionals – The Commission strongly encourages the Governor to call upon members of the Massachusetts mental health provider community to volunteer their time and expertise to assist returning service members. The participation of the mental health community is a vital part of a community-based effort to provide servicemembers and their families with the support they need. The Commission further recommends that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Legislature and GACVS announce a formal partnership with the state and Give an Hour and SOFAR to coordinate the providers’ community volunteer efforts. Such a partnership would serve to also highlight these resources for service members and their families. The Commission applauds the work of both programs which provide confidential counseling services outside of the traditional military community. Both programs provide counseling to non-dependents of the servicemember, a service that DOD and VA do not automatically provide. (page 28)
“The “So Far” Guide for Helping Children and Youth Cope with the Deployment of a Parent in the Military Reserves” – The Commission recommends distribution of the “So Far” guide to all schools in the Commonwealth to continue knowledge sharing. The Commission supports collaboration between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch in this venture and encourages an opportunity for Legislators to participate in the distribution of literature in their own communities. (page 38)
Jaine Darwin and Kenneth Reich Honored as 2009 Purpose Prize Fellows for Innovation, Extraordinary Contribution in Encore Career
Each for Using Creativity, Experience to Solve Long-Standing Social Problems
Jaine Darwin and Kenneth Reich have been named 2009 Purpose Prize fellows, an honor for social entrepreneurs over 60 who are using their experience and passion to take on society’s biggest challenges. Now in its fourth year, the six-year, $17 million program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life.
Jaine Darwin and Kenneth Reich, the Co-Founders of the Massachusetts based SOFAR: Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (www.sofarusa.org), named Fellows for their work founding and directing a program that provides pro bono mental health services to extended family members of National Guard and Other Military Reservists who are serving or have returned from service in the Wars in Afghanistan (Operating Enduring Freedom) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom).
Jaine and Ken will join 46 other Purpose Prize Fellows at a Summit on Innovation on Oct. 31 – Nov. 1 at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business’ Center on Social Innovation, one of the world’s leading academic centers focused on social entrepreneurship.
The fellows underscore a trend in entrepreneurialism later in life. According to studies by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the 55-64 age group is the most active in creating new ventures. Counter to stereotype, people ages 20-34, the study found, are the least entrepreneurial.
“More than ever, the problems facing our communities, country and world call out for creative solutions,” said Marc Freedman, co-founder of The Purpose Prize and author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life. “Fortunately, we don’t run out of ideas as we age.
“Like so many others in this new stage of life between the end of midlife careers and the beginning of true old age, The Purpose Prize fellows combine creativity, experience and passion with a desire to do something bigger than themselves,” Freeman continued.
The Purpose Prize supports Fellows by helping develop their capacity, linking them with funders and venture philanthropists and connecting them to other social innovators over 60. It is part of the Encore Careers campaign run by Civic Ventures, a national think tank on boomers, work and social purpose. Funding for The Purpose Prize comes from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John Templeton Foundation.
Sherry Lansing, CEO of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and former chair of Paramount Pictures’ Motion Picture Group, chairs the jury that selected this year’s winners. The 24 judges are leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – including actor Sidney Poitier, social entrepreneur Thomas Tierney, former Senator Harris Wofford and journalist Cokie Roberts.
The Purpose Prize is a program of the Encore Careers campaign (www.encore.org), which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining social impact, personal meaning and continued income in the second half of life. The goal: produce a windfall of human talent to solve society’s greatest problems, from education to the environment, health care to homelessness.
For more information, visit www.encore.org.
About Civic Ventures (www.encore.org).
Civic Ventures is a national think tank on boomers, work and social purpose.
About The Atlantic Philanthropies (www.atlanticphilanthropies.org) The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Their work is aimed at ageing, disadvantaged children and youth, population health, and reconciliation and human rights.
About the John Templeton Foundation (www.templeton.org)
The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for research and discoveries relating to what scientists and philosophers call the Big Questions. The Foundation supports work at the world's top universities in such fields as theoretical physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and social science relating to love, forgiveness, creativity, purpose, and the nature and origin of religious belief.
NPR: Morning Edition. November 12, 2007. By Bob Oakes (Read Original)
Richard Moody of Danvers and Shirley Burke of Salem use the services of SOFAR.
BOSTON, Mass. - November 12, 2007 - On Veterans Day, we often pause to think about the sacrifice of soldiers, especially those in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When they return from war, they can face significant mental health challenges. Often, it's more than the soldiers who need help: Families also need psychological support. Army Reserve and National Guard families are in a unique position because they lack the support of a military base community.
Shirley Burke lives in Salem and says she felt scared and lonely while her husband Phillip served two tours of duty in Iraq. "Every night you go to bed and you say am i going to get a phone call tonight," Burke says, "A knock on the door, that's how we live every day."
Burke found help with a free counseling group called " SOFAR," or Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists. She says SOFAR's mental health professionals let her talk about her fear of losing her husband, something she didn't think her neighbors could relate to.
Counselors also go to group meetings of Army Reservists and National Guard families. Air Force veteran Richard Moody of Danvers runs a family support group.
He invited SOFAR to speak about the isolation that families feel when a family member is deployed. Moody says, "At any minute we could be killed. And that's a level of stress that you can't explain to people that don't understand it. What happens is that almost everybody that comes back is changed. And when they change, the people back home need to be addressed as to how to cope, how to handle that."
SOFAR's 70 volunteers meet with individuals and family groups in Boston and throughout New England. The organization's Co-Directors Ken Reich and Jaine Darwin join WBUR's Bob Oakes in conversation this morning.
February, 2007, Cambridge, MA – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has endorsed the Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR) program. SOFAR offers pro-bono counseling and support services to families and children with loved ones serving overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan and other war zones.
“Formal endorsement by organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics is a testament to the importance of the mission we have undertaken,” said Dr. Kenneth Reich, co-chair and founder of SOFAR. “Support from the AAP is invaluable in terms of helping us provide mental health support to military families across the United States.”
SOFAR is a unique program that provides pro bono support for families of Army Reservists and the National Guard. SOFAR allows mental health professionals in civilian life to provide pro bono services that support families at all stages of overseas military engagement (alert, mobilization, deployment, reunion.)
“The So Far Guide for Helping Children and Youth Cope with the Deployment of a Parent in the Military Reserves” is one aspect of the SOFAR program that is available to educators, parents, pediatricians and other professionals. After reviewing the pamphlet, the AAP provided information that was incorporated into the final edition.
Families of soldiers, children in particular, face special challenges during wartime. SOFAR recognizes that anxiety and depression may be caused by separation and fear for their soldiers' safety. Untreated anxiety and depression may lead to infidelity, divorce, domestic violence, suicidal thoughts and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)
SOFAR is designed to address a significant need. Some estimates show that 40 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations overseas will suffer some form of psychological difficulty. Mental health professionals who volunteer in the SOFAR are trained to work with families of Army Reservists and the National Guard on several issues, including:
Impact on the family when a soldier first returns home from a war zone deployment. The joy of a family's reunion is coupled with the challenge of coping with changes in family relationships that take place when a family member leaves and returns.
The long-term impact of soldiers' return from the war theater. Research shows that symptoms not previously seen are most likely to appear six months after soldiers return from the war theater.
How different family members might feel at any point during different stages of overseas engagement and how children may be impacted at different stages of their development.
SOFAR mental health professionals also are trained to provide psycho-education to provide the families of reservists and national guardsmen. All SOFAR mental health professionals are volunteers who are trained to provide service to families and to give consultation and support to each other. SOFAR creates teams of volunteers, with each team assigned specialists and a senior supervisor.
According to a New York Times analysis published in December 2004, "tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq" could return home with "serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war."
A study conducted by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2004 indicated that to date, one in approximately six soldiers in Iraq who experienced combat exhibited symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Many mental health professionals believe this proportion could increase to as high as one in three soldiers.
On the home front, military families are experiencing serious stress, uncertain about if or when a loved one will return home. In addition, a parent who remains at home must struggle with the emotional and financial strain of raising a family without the day-to-day support of his or her loved one abroad. Strategic outreach to families helps to reduce their stress and prepares them for the possibility that their Reservist or Guard member may exhibit symptoms associated with trauma from serving in a combat zone during war time. The more prepared these families are to address their own needs, the better they will be able to face the challenges of a loved one's return.
The long-term detrimental effects of untreated trauma are enormous. It is a chilling fact that one-third of homeless men in America today are veterans, and the number of Vietnam veterans who are homeless now exceeds the number of U.S troops killed during that war.
As friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, we must ensure that today's veterans and their families receive the care and support they need. They have volunteered to serve our country so that we might be safe and secure.
Now, it is our turn to serve them.
The Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England (PCFINE), with the support of other psychoanalytic groups throughout the country, has launched a new pro bono program called SOFAR: Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists. Through this program, SOFAR coordinates the delivery of psychotherapy and psycho-educational services to the families of Reservists and National Guard members who are stationed in or returning from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait.
The goal of SOFAR is to provide a flexible and diverse range of psychological services that fosters stabilization, aid in formulating prevention plans to avoid crises, and help families to manage acute problems effectively when they occur. Our highest priority is to help families to develop and maintain coping skills during the phases of Alert, Mobilization/Activation, Deployment and Reunion/Reintegration. Clinicians will be available to provide individual and family therapy and lead support groups targeted for families, mothers and parents on such topics as stress management, anger management and general coping skills.
SOFAR aims to reduce stress on Reservists and Guard Members by letting them know that SOFAR is there to support their families when the need arises. The program is beginning with more than 70 credentialed volunteers who are meeting with members of Family Readiness Groups of the Army Reserves, based in the Boston, MA and surrounding communities. Families of Army Reservists have received information about the program and are encouraged to contact the program by calling us at 617-266-2611 to request an assignment to one of the participating clinicians in the Greater Boston area. All families will be guaranteed strictly confidentiality within the limits of the law.
Once a family member requests services from SOFAR, the clinician will conduct an assessment and develop a treatment plan for the individual and/or family. The family member and the clinician will negotiate the duration and frequency of services to best meet the needs of the family with the resources SOFAR can provide. Should the family require additional community resources, the clinician will assist in making referrals to appropriate services.
Once the program has been assessed and appropriate changes made to accommodate the needs of the population, SOFAR will work to replicate the program nationally through the 27 local chapters of Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association and the 31 institutes of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Ongoing news about the project and plans for expanding its scope will be reported on PCFINE's website as well (www.pcfine.org).