A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to attend some group therapy sessions with other Veterans. They were all going through a recovery program located in Houston, Texas. I was not going through the same Program they were, however I was invited to the group therapy sessions for my own wellbeing. It was one of the most insightful experiences I’ve gone through as far as sheading light on how to help Veteran families through Set Apart Farms.

There were some positive and negative lessons learned from the experience and I’d like to share those with you.

The first and biggest problem I already knew at the time was the lack of participation from the Veterans spouse’s. This wasn’t because they didn’t want to be a part of the program, it just wasn’t offered. Most of the Veterans going through this healing process were married and had children. In fact, the majority were there because of their spouse. They had had enough and wanted their Veteran to be healed and their marriage to be restored. But yet here they were, completely left out of the equation.

I was invited several times to attend what was known as “Family Day”. This was the one day a week that the Veterans family could come to the facility where the Veteran was housed and have a dinner with their loved ones. This was the one day a week the family could see each other. Post dinner the Veterans would link up with their respective groups for a camp fire group therapy. Sounds great, but here’s where I saw it all fall apart. Nine and a half times out of ten the kids start crying and did not want to leave daddy. The look of resentment on the wives faces was more than obvious, but you can’t blame them. After all, here she is having to be both Mom and Dad all over again while he gets to go off and have a pow wow with the boys…

It was stirring up emotions for both parties. You could see in the Veterans faces that look of separation anxiety. You could see in the spouse’s that look of exhaustion and frustration. Every week the same thing, separating a family once again. Once the family’s were gone it didn’t end. I could tell the distance they had while sitting around for the “therapy” session. They seemed to only have one foot in the door as far as recovery and therapy goes.. It was all in all a very uncomfortable feeling and I decided not to return after the second time.

I still keep in contact with a few of the Veterans that went through the program, some have had to return several times. Which in itself tells me that it wasn’t very effective. But what disturbed me the most was to find out how many families separated after the Veterans program was over. I’m sure that’s what led to some having to return back, with no family in the picture there was no sense of responsibility, no sense of having to provide for anyone. They fell right back into their old habits and were now worse off because they didn’t have a family to turn to.

For the Veterans spouse’s out there. Don’t think for one minute that you’re not a part of your Veterans recovery. Whether it be for mental, physical or addictive recoveries, you are an integral part of the entire process. You are afterall a family unit. You’re one together, all of you. Husband, wife, children. Your foundation as a family is so important and it’s time we stop leaving out half the ingredients. There’s a huge gap in Veteran programs that needs to be addressed.

That’s what we’re doing at Set Apart Farms, bridging that gap. It’s time to get it right. Faith led and family driven.