Local clergymen meet with veterans advisory board

Members of the VIP (Very Important Project) for Vets Community Advisory Board and several Pine Bluff ministers attended a recent day-long rural clergy training project in Ferndale. The event was sponsored in part by the Veterans Health Administration and Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centers.

Attending along with Pine Bluff’s Alfred Carroll, president of the group, were local ministers Jimmy L. Fisher Sr., Travis Harden, Joe Scott, Johnny Smith, Alonzo Williams and Leon Williams.

The purpose of the training was to provide participants with timely information, contacts and service-provider techniques in assisting veterans and their families in “making a smooth transition/ reunion after having served a military tour of duty,” according to a news release.

Carroll said participants learned that military personnel can experience post-traumatic stress syndrome episodes 30 years after having been in combat, and such episodes can be triggered by events that may not have occurred in combat.

“Research suggests that many servicemen and women are likely to first seek counseling from the local pastor, priest or rabbi,” Carroll said. “Therefore, we in the clergy must be ready to to assist our local heroes with not just sound spiritual advice, but timely information on how to secure necessary services in the appropriate manner.”

The Vet Center’s Mobile Vet Center information van will be parked at the Walmart store on Olive Street here from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Readjustment counseling specialists will be available o answer questions and provide the latest information.

The VIP board has invited local clergy and mental health counselors to a June 20 luncheon meeting at Terry’s Home Cooking Restaurant here.

For more information on the group and/or associated matters, telephone Carroll at 870-692-9039, Fisher at 870-502-9090 or Harden at 870-717-7908.