Sometimes I get lazy, discouraged, or pulled towards work and family priorities, and I am consistently suffering from what I like to call a loss of the Counselor’s mindset. If you are familiar with my posts, of which there haven’t been many recently, you will notice that I am passionate about starting a Veteran and Family Counseling Ranch. Please take a look at my blogs titled: “Something Different", the “So What Factor 1-3", and "Rolling out the Model” if you’re interested. These blogs are lengthy but will be worth your read.
Anyway, my posts are fictitious in nature, and they are designed to help a reader envision what it will be like for a person or couple visiting the Vine and Branch. I try to capture the sights, smells, emotions, and unique problem sets that Veterans and their family members experience. My most important goal is to show the reader that it’s entirely possible to integrate healing professionals, employers, family, and the Church into a vacation setting that is beneficial for everyone involved.
Experiences this past year
I’ve had some great experiences over the past year. In fact, I should probably update the bio under my picture. On a positive note, our family moved to Fort Leavenworth where I now work for an organization called the Mission Command Training Program (MCTP). I’m part of a training team that travels almost every month to Army post around the world. During my travels, I get the chance to work alongside fellow Officers in some fairly unique, emotionally stressful, and physically taxing situations, affording me the opportunity to utilize Counseling techniques when the need and opportunity arises.
Since returning from Afghanistan, we purchased our first home, built two fairly large gardens, had two litters of kittens, and were blessed to have Jen’s mom move in with us due to health reasons, all of craziness while having three very young daughters in our home. I can say that the transition back to the Active Duty Army after deployment was a great and truly exciting time.
Unfortunately over the past year, I have a hard time reflecting and focusing creative energy into my blog. Regrettably, it seems as if I need to see or experience pain and sadness in others or in myself to write more effectively. At least that’s the way it seems to works with me.
Over the past month, I’ve had some pretty major foot surgery. I’ve been forced to depend on others to get around etc.. While spending so much time with nothing really to do, I had the opportunity to reflect on some things. I got angry and depressed with myself for wasting so much time.
I started to think about suicides committed by Soldiers, one husband and one mother, over the past year, suicides that had occurred within units with which I’d been temporarily associated with for training purposes. I didn’t know these Soldiers personally, but I did see the affect the suicides had on the units and people relationally involved.
I also know of a Soldier, whom I am friends with, that was arrested and is currently pending trial for a crime that he is charged with. I can’t and won’t really go into the specifics of the case, but the guy experienced some tremendous things during multiple tours of combat.
What I learned from these troubling yet thought-provoking experiences re-inspired me to continue writing blogs and to work even harder at my goal for establishing the NFP that I will call “Vine and Branch.” (Thanks Doc Warren for sending me the bylaw stuff!) If you do by chance start reading my blog and are interested in what I’m doing, please shoot me a message or give me some constructive criticism. I want to network and refine the concept.
As for Jim and Fran, they are moving into their 2nd week at the Vine and Branch where they will work more in a group setting. Please feel free to share ideas or critique mine as I progress with writing. The goal is to show how the V&B can and will work to others.
Have a great day.
Chris Allen is a counselor and an Army Officer. He is passionate about developing counseling practices that best address Veterans and their families. Blog posts and comments are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense.