It takes a community to welcome home the warrior
The community must be whole and well for the welcome to be effective
War-related trauma affects everyone who serves, not just those with direct combat experience. Its shockwaves radiate across individual, family, community and culture; body, mind, and spirit. Repeated trauma can unravel veterans’ connections with their families, peers, and communities – as well as within themselves. The community plays a critically important role in repairing and renewing broken connections.
The Coming Home Project is a San Francisco-based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to alleviating the unseen injuries of war faced by veterans and their families. We promote wellbeing across the deployment cycle and provide support for successful reintegration into civilian life. Coming Home builds a living community where veterans come together to reintegrate with their families, peers, and communities – and within themselves. At our residential retreats, they share stories, struggles and accomplishments, practice meditation, yoga and qigong, enjoy expressive arts like journaling and movement, and recreational activities like kayaking and hiking, as they connect with services and resources in their communities, all in beautiful, serene settings. Our workshops are not psychotherapy, but they are therapeutic. Driven by peer support, they are facilitated by experienced psychotherapists, trained veterans, family members, and chaplains.
We also provide self-care retreats and resilience training for healthcare providers who serve veterans and in military treatment facilities such as Walter Reed and VA’s around the country. These programs alleviate and prevent burnout and compassion fatigue, helping to ensure continuity of services.
As part of our integrative continuum of care, Coming Home also offers psychological counseling services, follow up support and education, and professional training for healthcare professionals and first responders. All Coming Home programs are non-denominational, confidential and free. Nearly 3,000 people representing more than 45 states have attended our retreats, counseling sessions, community forums, and classes. More than 2 million people have downloaded our educational videos through our website, YouTube and iTunesU. We have accomplished all this in only four years, without government assistance, and on an extremely lean operational budget and staff.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), which is mandated by Congress to identify, study, vet, endorse and disseminate best practices, recently named the Coming Home Project among 8 top reintegration programs nationally. Coming Home participants report substantial reductions in stress, exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, isolation, hopelessness and emotionally “numbness,” as well as increases in happiness, relaxation, energy, sense of support, and ability to care for and calm themselves. In follow-up studies 4-8 weeks after retreats, these positive results remained consistent and reliable.
Hundreds of volunteers have contributed to Coming Home’s success. Please consider lending a hand.
Stay tuned for our next Community Forum, Welcoming Our Veterans Home: Unseen Injuries and the Power of Community, in November, where we will bring together veterans and their families, community leaders, health professionals, trauma experts, the interfaith community, dignitaries, government officials, and the general public. Join us for an evening that combines informative and inspiring presentations with fresh video, music and poetry. Hear directly from recently returned Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and family members. Help us harness the power of community in truly welcoming and helping our veterans and their families.
Dr. Joseph Bobrow, Roshi, the founder and president of the Coming Home Project, is a Zen master, psychoanalyst and community organizer whose book, Zen and Psychotherapy: Partners in Liberation, explores the fertile interplay of Buddhism, psychotherapy and community in transforming suffering and helping us realize and embody our true nature.