Community Connections

Veterans Project of South Florida – SOFAR (2008-2012)

Co-sponsors: The Florida Psychoanalytic Society and The Southeast Florida Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology
Support for this project was provided by The Dade Community Foundation’s BRAIVE Fund and The American Psychoanalytic Foundation

The Veterans Project of South Florida SOFAR was a group of about 35 psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and other mental health professionals who volunteered to provide free, confidential counseling, psychotherapy and other mental health services to Iraq and Afghan war troops, veterans and/or their families. The Project was jointly sponsored by the Florida Psychoanalytic Society and the SouthEast Florida Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology (SEFAPP), which is a local chapter of Division 39 of the American Psychological Association.

The Project was started because there were not sufficient mental health resources available to meet the needs of the troops deployed in the current wars and their families. Florida was third-highest among all states in number of military personnel deployed. Its needs are high and its resources are limited.

20 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, depression, and family problems. Many did not seek treatment because of stigmatization. Reservists and National Guard personnel often had difficulty in obtaining treatment because unlike the regular military they went directly back to civilian life after discharge and did not have access to the psychiatric services provided on military bases. Their spouses and family members, who suffered from the "collateral damage" of military life, were usually not eligible for VA services.

The Project aimed to fill some of these gaps in services. Psychoanalytic clinicians have unique expertise in psychotherapy and family dynamics. We understand the long-term nature of mental health problems and the impact of trauma on families and through later generations. Much of society overlooked our troops and their sacrifices, but this program gave us an opportunity to provide needed services to the communities in which we live, at no charge.

The Project received grant support from the American Psychoanalytic Foundation and the Florida BrAIve (A for Afghanistan, I for Iraq) Fund of the Dade Community Foundation. We were part of a network of organizations put together to provide a wide variety of services to returning troops in South Florida. The Project provided consultations and training to many of those agencies, and collaborated with them for cross-referrals and coordination of services.

The Project was governed by a Steering Committee which met monthly. Committee members were divided between the two sponsoring groups. It was the Florida chapter of SOFAR, a Boston-based group that provided the same services.