Returning to civilian life after deployment can be stressful for veterans. Not only do they need to reintegrate into society, but they often need to deal with experiences difficult to put into words. Veterans need time away from the day-to-day, a break. One Meadville couple is helping them do just that. Licensed psychologist Anthon Pedone and his wife, Marsha, are helping veterans and their spouses at weekend getaways called “Breakaways.” The retreat is held at their bed and breakfast compound, Lilac Springs, in Meadville.
“It’s an opportunity for them to come to Lilac Springs to break away from everyday events and just relax,” Anthony Pedone said of the Breakaway weekends.
“We send civilians to the military, we turn them into soldiers, and we then bring them back to civilian life, but they’re alienated from their civilian life. So that’s why our motto is ‘Away from the war, but still in the zone.’ So you have someone who is carrying this around, and they can’t share it with their partner or their children.”
Anthony Pedone says many combat veterans may have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which they could actually pass along to family members.
“If I’m upset and have PTSD and you live with me, you will get PTSD. It’s contagious,” he said. “They don’t know how to separate themselves, and so you have people in conflict with each other. The non-veteran partner doesn’t know how to help the person.”
According to Pedone, teaming with a partner or loved one during the therapeutic weekend is essential for veterans to open up and move on.
“What most veterans think is only other veterans can understand what they’ve went through, gone through, and we don’t disagree with that,” said Pedone, referring to the realities of experiencing live combat.
“Our premise is that until they’re able to get a partner or civilian who has not been in combat to understand what they’ve gone through, then they’re not going to understand it themselves.”
“It opens up an understanding of why their partner behaves the way they do,” said Marsha Pedone.
Breakaways not only send vets home with the tools to build emotional support personally, but also a newfound group of friends to support them in life.
“They have been taught to think in a military way, and they need to know that there are civilians and there are wise people who can act as that bridge, a nexus, between their lives and their lives back here,” said Anthony Pedone.
“They’ve been able to step beyond being a veteran and become a civilian. And so, they put those things in the past and are living now in the present.” said Marsha Pedone.
If you or a loved one is interested in a Breakaway, visit Lilac Springs online at lilacspringspa.com.
Watch a video about Breakaways on GoCrawfordCounty.com.