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The Just Me Project

For Military Families

Recently published assessments of returning Iraq war veterans highlight significant mental health issues and challenges to the existing resources for intervention.

The stigma around issues of care plus the lack of access to care for the spouse, family-members, or reservists lead some analysts to predict that the long-term costs of care and consequences will be greater than the costs of the combat itself.

Many of the combat stress-related conditions like Traumatic Brain Injury may not become evident for some months, and may change the behavior of the individual in major ways. A child, a spouse and a parent may develop stress-related issues in trying to deal with this stranger who is their family-member. An effective and proven approach to stress-related illness is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or talking through the problems in a non-threatening environment. Whether with sick children and their families, returning veterans, or those who have undergone sudden loss and trauma, we know that if people under stress can talk about it, they do better. Sometimes the most difficult hurdle, especially given the stigma around mental health care, is finding a way to start the conversation.

The Just Me Project opens the dialogue, starting with a child’s book about a three-legged cat whose story normalizes the conditions of disability and prejudice, while inspiring readers to transcend limitations and appreciate connection to others. There is a structured program to build on coping skills and engage participants in reframing their experience. Henry the cat establishes a vocabulary of feelings and engages wounded adults through the perspective of innocence so that healing and understanding can begin. The cat describes himself as a handy cat not a handicapped cat, and invites humans to step outside of their prejudicial and limiting labels. Workbooks are designed to address specific issues for the wounded individual, the child, the caregiver, etc. and to help each one deal with the attitudes and adjustments necessary to their changed reality while still seeing themselves as capable and vital.


White paper: The Just Me Project for Military Families