Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another Voice of a (Former) Chaplain (Now) in Health Care

I’ve found another report on NPR of a healthcare chaplain. Well, that’s not exactly correct: better to say this is a chaplain who found his way into health care, serving a particularly vulnerable population.

Yesterday All Things Considered reported on efforts to support returning veterans, and especially to help them find necessary mental health services. The story included a profile of Mike Colson. Chaplain Mike Colson, USN, served in country in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He came home suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Now Dr. Mike Colson, PhD, serves with Military Chaplains Associated Services and the Seattle Vet Center. He provides counseling for returning vets suffering PTSD, and speaks widely to encourage those who haven’t yet to seek help. You can learn about him at his own web site and on the MCAS web site.

As a military chaplain, Colson would have had some responsibility for health care ministry, but it would not likely have been the primary focus of his career. Now that his military service is complete, he has moved into a healthcare ministry (he might not see that as the best way to describe his work, but I’m certainly convinced). His story gives him access and respectability with a patient population whose condition and experiences are noted for causing distrust and anxiety.

As a healthcare chaplain, I know how many patients and families I have served for whom trauma and pain have disrupted reality. Mike Colson seeks to serve, and to truly bring home, those for whom reality has been not simply disrupted but distorted. This chaplain’s voice is one from which all of us can benefit, and which some among us need desperately.

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