Upon returning home and to civilian life, many veterans struggle to reconnect to the community and suffer from a sense of extreme isolation because of their military experiences. An effective way of supporting veterans and to welcome them back into the community has been created by psychologist and award winning author Paula Caplan, Ph.D. It is based on the book When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans, which is about the painful isolation many veterans experience upon returning home. It offers us a simple way to help veterans and teaches non-veterans the art of compassionate listening. The astonishing power of listening, often these days underestimated, is explored with regard to having non-veterans simply listen with respect and without judgment to the stories of veterans from all United States wars since World War II.
The Listening Project (formerly The Welcome Johnny & Jane Home Project) is about welcoming veterans back into our communities and listening to their experiences, one-on-one. Every non-veteran should listen to a veteran tell their story and Caplan provides guidelines for conducting these listening sessions. The project has its roots in cultural and social traditions that expect the community to reach out, to be supportive and to nurture the healing of those who have been wounded by trauma. These traditions foster healing and recovery from psychologically distressful experiences by promoting narrative, interpersonal and community responses to those who have been impacted. The Listening project provides our community with a new and innovative opportunity to support our veterans and their families.
Paul Caplan speaking at the 2016 MHRB Annual RSVP Conference.
Click here for more photos from the RSVP Conference.
More information about the Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project is available in the following documents:
To learn more about the National Project, visit Dr. Caplan's website here.
This playlist (link below) contains presentations from ‘A Better Welcome Home: Transformative Models to Support Veterans and Their Families,’ a conference held at the Ash Center on November 2, 2011. Nearly all of the more than two dozen people in the videos followed the pattern of using straightforward language, free from jargon, to describe very briefly what they do to help veterans and/or their loved ones without labeling them “mentally ill"
If you are interested in becoming a listener, a veteran interested in a listening session or would like more information about the Project, contact Jenny Whitmore, Project Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.