Albert Rodriguez, left, and Ernie Trevizo carry the flags as they lead a group as part of the Veteran Services Collaborative's Memorial Day Backpack Walk on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Mental health day to help veterans and their families

The Santa Clarita Valley Veteran Services Collaborative is hosting its first Veteran & Family Mental Health Day, “Pathways to Empowerment,” on Saturday, June 15.

The “mental health day,” which is free to attend, is set to provide breakout sessions, dealing with topics like the impact post traumatic stress disorder has on a military family, what to expect when your veteran returns home and stress reducing strategies for everyone, as well as local resources and referrals for those in need of further assistance.

The event focuses on not only the veterans and their needs, but also support for their families, according to Judy Wolfe, the collaborative’s co-founder.

“We’re not only explaining what PTSD is, but also giving the families tools to handle it,” Wolfe said. “If a family knows what’s happening in the brain, it can help them handle situations better. PTSD is not a disease, it is something that happens in the brain as a result of a traumatic event, but for the combat veterans it is pounded into them day after day so it gets much more imprinted on the brain.”

Combat veterans may not only have PTSD symptoms, but also hypervigilance, high adrenaline and triggers for simple things like the news or a certain song on the radio, all of which Wolfe plans to address at the event so that veterans and their families are prepared to handle whatever may come.

Scheduled speakers include Carl Castro, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army and director of USC’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, and Charlotte Jennings, a retired master sergeant in the U.S. Army and Marines and certified suicide-prevention counselor who consults families of deployed soldiers.

In addition, instructors from Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness Center are expected to lead classes focused on mindfulness and yoga, giving military families tools that may help in dealing with the stress and keeping them calm, according to Wolfe.

Participants will also receive a free continental breakfast and Jersey Mike’s for lunch, according to the event organizers.

Pathways to Empowerment is scheduled for Saturday, June 15, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at The Centre located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway. The event is limited to the first 150 registrants and participants must be 13 or older.

For more information or to reserve your spot, visit scv-vets.org or call 661-670-8680.

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