November 15, 2018

Webinar offered PTSD counseling for military students

After conversing with members of the military and reserves, Gladys Smith, assistant director of Health & Counseling, learned that many military members will be returning to Webster University after service. Smith received word from her unit, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, that some military members had begun taking classes at the Webster campus on base.  Others would be making their way to Webster campuses across the U.S. Upon hearing this news, Smith decided now was the time to educate and prepare students, faculty and staff about post-traumatic stress disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), categorized as an anxiety disorder, can occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event involving death or threat of injury.  To educate the university, Smith decided to host a webinar on PTSD. She decided to use the webinar instead of a traditional in-person seminar after she was given the option after making a proposal to the Webster staff alliance.
“It’s another way to reach more people in more offices,” Smith said.
To join the webinar, login was required to a site that showed Smith’s power point presentation with an online chat box on the side panel for participants and the host to use. The telephone number and login information were provided on the site to connect to the conference call.
A total of 44 participants from sites such as Los Angeles, Scott Air Force Base, Fort Brag, Whiteman and Camp Lejeune, among others, listened as Smith covered many aspects of PTSD.  She explained the after effects of deployment, what PTSD does to the brain, signs and symptoms, and how to approach veterans with PTSD.
Many of the webinar participants were active or former military members or close relatives. One participant said her husband is a retired marine officer of Desert Storm and Shield, but refuses to see a therapist. She often visits seminars to further her learning of the military and life during and after service.
Smith said educating the university on PTSD and its connection to military members has always been something she wanted to do, but due to scheduling and booking, was postponed to a later date. Smith said she wanted the webinar to be a refresher for reconnection between faculty, staff, students and military members.
Smith did general training on PTSD for Webster last spring, but it wasn’t as in-depth as the webinar. She will host another seminar on PTSD for the Missouri Addiction Counsel Association soon. The six-hour seminar will be presented to licensed therapists, elaborating more on women in the military and will feature two movies mentioned in the webinar.
Smith, who took classes at Webster in the early 90s, said the university has always serviced military members. She has been in the military for 24 years and is now in the reserves working as a volunteer and facilitator with American Red Cross. Smith’s father served in the army for six years. Her uncles, now deceased, were also active military members. She has living cousins who were in the military, as well.
“This is not a new thing. We’re just helping faculty deal with the issues that are more prevalent nowadays,” Smith said, referring to PTSD training.
Vets who are seeking counseling here at Webster are encouraged to visit the offices of Counseling & Life Development, open 24 hours, and the Academic Resource Center and Academic Affairs office.  Career Services also helps with regaining the connection from military life back to civilian life.
Smith said there are many ways to recieve help.
“There is a lot of direct and indirect help. We encourage them to call and let them know what’s going on,” Smith said.
Career Services and the Academic Resource Center engage in ongoing training to better help military members diagnosed with PTSD.

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