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Book Helps Veterans and Families Adjust to Life After War

Armen Hareyan's picture

Readjustment to Family Life

The experience of war can change a person profoundly and the return to civilian or active duty life stateside can be a challenge for both veterans and those who are close to them, says a specialist who has studied the subject.

Readjustment and reintegration are outlined in a new book titled "Courage After Fire," which is designed to help returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, their families and the people who care for them, including employers, clergy and community members.

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"It's estimated that around a million military personnel have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and over 300,000 have served more than one tour of duty," notes co-author Keith Armstrong, L.C.S.W., director of Couples and Family Therapy and director of Mental Health Social Work at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. "This book's purpose is to help veterans reintegrate back into their families and communities, and to help their families with readjustment as well."

"Courage After Fire," which features a forward by U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, is based directly on work with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families, including Armstrong's 16-plus years of experience working with veterans of conflicts from World War II to the present day. Armstrong and two co-authors wrote the book, which is published by Ulysses Press. An estimated one in four veterans returns from Iraq or Afghanistan with some kind of psychiatric or emotional problem, notes Armstrong, who is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and a member of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Program at SFVAMC.

"But this book covers an even larger group," he says, "because when you're separated from your family, and then you reintegrate back, there are going to be difficulties. I think that's true for everyone. So there are suggestions in this book that will be useful to all veterans." According to Armstrong, the book describes and explains "some of the typical issues we see with veterans and their families when veterans return from a war zone, and then provides practical strategies and solutions to address those particular issues"