The scars of war upon a landscape can be repaired in time. The scars of war on the psyche of a people may take longer to identify and treat.
Mindful of that, White Rock Rotary Club (representing the broader Rotary District 5050) and the Veterans Transition Program at UBC are joining forces in an ambitious initiative to send a local team of counsellors to Ukraine to help those with war-related mental health challenges.
A special memorandum of understanding signing event Monday (June 26) at 11 a.m. at the Rotary Fieldhouse in South Surrey Athletic Park (2197 148 St.) will formalize the agreement and mark the official launch of the Ukraine Trauma Support Initiative.
Speakers at the event will be project directors Anthony Manning (of White Rock Rotary) and Tim Laidler, of Veterans Education and Transition (IVET, at UBC’s Faculty of Education).
The directors say it will be a transformative project aimed at providing counseling psychology training and support to military members and citizens of Ukraine.
The Ukraine Trauma Support Initiative will send counsellors, Canadian veterans, and others trained in addressing mental health challenges across various disciplines to the war-ravaged country.
The objective will be to create sustainable programs empowering Ukraine people facing stress, trauma, and related emotional difficulties.
“The Rotary Club District 5050 and IVET share a common vision of improving mental health support and empowering individuals facing challenging circumstances,” Manning stated in a media release.
“This partnership will enable us to leverage our respective strengths, networks, and resources to make a positive impact on the lives of people affected by stress, trauma, and related emotional challenges.”
“We are excited to collaborate with the Rotary Club District 5050 to develop and implement comprehensive mental health programs,” Laidler said.
”By combining our expertise and resources, we aim to create sustainable solutions and make a significant difference in the lives of individuals in need.”
IVET is a leading organization committed to providing education, training, and support for veterans transitioning to civilian life. IVET focuses on empowering veterans to overcome challenges and achieve their full potential through various programs and initiatives.
One of the cornerstones of the Ukrainian project will be the creation of a Mental Health Improvement Program (MHIP), drawing on successful counseling interventions and methodologies developed by Dr. Marv Westwood at UBC.
Building on Westwood’s group counselling expertise and network of clinicians working in trauma, the IVET team of Canadian Military Veterans and trauma counselors will play a significant role by sourcing and training clinicians experienced in group work and trauma therapy, organizers say.
With support of the Rotary Club, IVET plans to build partnerships with Ukrainian organizations and local experts to develop a culturally appropriate program using evidence-based practices. The recruitment of veterans will be a priority to support both domestic and overseas operations.
Also key will be empowering local and international clinicians by equipping them with enhanced tools and training to effectively support individuals facing stress, trauma, or related emotional challenges. Project leaders acknowledge the causes of such stress can vary widely and is not limited to specific circumstances.
Both District 5050 – which includes Canadian clubs south of the Fraser and the Fraser Valley as well as American clubs in northwestern Washington State – and IVET will also collaborate to raise overall awareness about mental health issues and attract funds to support the launch and execution of vocational training programs.
Additionally, the partnership will seek to foster international collaboration with governments, United Nations Specialized Agencies, such as the World Health Organization, and the private sector.
Leveraging its international network, Rotary Club District 5050 will lead fundraising efforts for projects sponsored under the overall umbrella of the initiative. Furthermore, Rotary will utilize its established relationships with various governmental and non-governmental organizations to secure longer-term funding.
Over the past year, District 5050, through an initiative of the Rotary Club of Coquitlam raised over $75,000 to purchase eight delivery vans to deliver humanitarian supplies to Ukranian civilians as well as an ambulance.
Last winter, a separate fundraising initiative brought in $30,000 for two generators to supply power for a refugee kitchen. Rotary clubs in Germany co-ordinated purchasing the items and delivering them to Rotary clubs in Ukraine.
For its part, the Rotary Club of White Rock, established in 1955, worked with the local Ukrainian community to organise a fundraising walk last year that raised $30,000 for humanitarian aid.
These ongoing efforts in Ukraine, will serve as a foundation for future collaboration, organizers say.