In 2004, psychiatrist Judith T. Broder, M.D. attended a theatre performance of “The Sand Storm: Stories from the Front,” a series of 10 monologues describing the Iraq war from the perspective of active duty marines. The play was written by Sean Huze, himself an active duty marine at that time. It was performed by Iraq veterans, including Huze, who later developed the theatre company VetStage. The play dramatically illustrated the horror of war and the trauma it brings to the young men and women who carry the burden. After the play, Dr. Broder felt a professional obligation to help our troops and their families manage the myriad of war-related mental health issues.
Dr. Broder then approached the Ernest S. Lawrence Trauma Center, whose mission is to provide free psychological services to populations “in-need” or “at-risk” in and around Los Angeles. She proposed that they jointly start a program to serve veterans. The Ernest S. Lawrence Trauma Center, under the aegis of the non-profit educational institution, the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies, agreed that its psychoanalysts could make a contribution to the community by providing free care for our service men and women and their families.
Dr. Broder started The Soldiers Project in 2004. She paid for a telephone line, started a website and gathered together a group of volunteer mental health professionals. They reached out to veterans groups, the VA, military bases, and community venues to raise awareness of the psychological consequences of war and the availability of free, confidential, individualized counseling, at private offices throughout Southern California.
Our licensed mental health professionals offer free psychotherapy to any military service member/veteran who has served Post 9/11. We also offer free therapy to their loved ones – boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, children, parents and grandparents. There is no red tape, there are no fees, and there is no arbitrary limit on the number of sessions provided. We see individuals, couples, children, and families. We configure our therapy to meet the client’s needs. Because we are in private practice, we have the flexibility to see people prior to, during and/or following return from deployment and to keep in touch via phone or the internet if needed.
Today, The Soldiers Project in the Southern California area alone has well over 200 volunteer therapists and more than 500 in the entire country. With calls coming in from all over the United States, affiliated chapters have developed in Sacramento, Washington state, Chicago, New York City, Long Island, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.
Presidential Citizens Medal 2011 – Judith Broder, M.D
Dr. Judith Broder, 2011 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award Recipient
I love my current marriage counselor. It seems like my relationship with my wife and my beautiful baby girl and a boy is gradually improving. My anger issues decreased slightly, and still working on my PTSD symptoms but the marriage counselor from The Soldiers Project is really helping our family stay strong!!! I strongly suggest The Soldiers Project to other fellow vets who were diagnosed with PTSD, TBI and anxiety disorders, tinnitus and migraine, sleep apnea!!! Well these are my symptoms and I’m 100% service connected vet but I also suggest this [organization] to the other fellow vets even if they’re less then 100% service-connected as well as non-service connected vets… All across!!!
When I first started to see a therapist through The Soldiers Project I was angry and violent, my marriage was falling apart, I didn’t go out of the house other than to school, I couldn’t handle driving a car, I had panic attacks on weekly and sometimes daily basis. After getting counseling I learned how to deal with anxiety and panic, I was able to go out and do more things. My relationships grew stronger with family and friends. I learned that I was allowed to be happy and live the life that I wanted to live. I’m now working a dream job in a location that I absolutely love and I feel that this wouldn’t have been possible without the help I received from The Soldiers Project.
Seeking therapy helped me to realize a lot of my stress and emotional responses were a result of experiences previous to and exacerbated by my military experiences, rather than solely caused by the military and my deployments. My therapist helped me to frame my emotional responses to stress and conflict more positively and take tangible steps for working through problems. I think becoming more aware of my beliefs and behaviors that have become ingrained over the years has helped me to address and thinking through things differently and in better ways.
After three years of struggling I am doing very well. I spent 2014 coming off 10 of my 12 prescription meds in the woods of South Jersey. I know, crazy right? I am seeing Dr. Goodman and he is great. I know it took me a while to come around but I appreciate you sticking with me. I owe a lot to The Soldiers Project. Thank you. Also I am becoming active in the volunteer/activist circles taking up some of the most important issues affecting my brothers and sisters in arms today. I am in a place where, to give back is therapeutic. Thank you for all you do for us …