Why military families are casualties of war too

THE psychological support for military families is being researched by an academic who is hoping to set up a survivor retreat in the North-East.

The study is being carried out by Dr Amanda Wood, a graduate of Teesside University who has received the Winston Churchill Fellowship Award.

She will undertake a six-week sabbatical in the USA from June to mid-July, visiting various locations and taking part in a retreat for veterans and their families in Salt Lake City. This will include individual psychotherapy, equine therapy, yoga and other activities.

Dr Wood said: “I see military children as the forgotten casualties of war. They serve too and military families are everybody’s business.”

Dr Wood works as a counselling psychologist at Cleveland Psychology in Middlesbrough. She previously worked in the Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) at RAF Leeming and Catterick Garrison.

Her interest in the military comes from her family’s involvement in warfare, with her grandfather and her uncle both serving in the armed forces.

Her grandfather was awarded the Military Medal and two bars in World War One and her uncle was a flight sergeant and engineer who was lost in action over Dunkirk during World War Two.

Dr Wood studied for her Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at Teesside University, after gaining her Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology and a Foundation Degree in Counselling from 2008 to 2010 at the University.

She gained her PhD in 2013, with her doctoral thesis, ‘Ambiguous Loss: A Never-Ending Story,’ which emphasised the lack of support given to military families and, in particular, children.

Military wives and mothers shared their experiences of living alongside a family member returning from combat having sustained a severe brain injury and the effect upon the family as a whole.

This topic will be part of her research in the USA, with Dr Wood required to publish and disseminate a 15,000 word report to the Mental Health Foundation, which will assist her in raising awareness among policy makers and stakeholders.

Dr Wood is also hoping to set up a survivor retreat in the North East of England based upon her experiences in America.

Her research project is being funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, as part of a new category introduced by the Trust in the field of mental health. The Trust was established shortly after Sir Winston’s death in 1965.

It gives funds to British citizens to travel overseas to gain research and experience in a specific field.

A new category in Mental Health – Community Based Approaches – was introduced this year, designed for people involved in delivering community based treatment and support.

CONTACT:

Anyone requiring further information about Dr Wood’s area of expertise in military mental health are welcome to e-mail her at amanda.wood@mail.com.

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