North Adams Volunteers Form Group to Help Veterans and Families

Sep 14, 2012

Volunteers in North Adams, Massachusetts, have begun a new program to offer help for the family members of service members suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Rebecca Litchfield is a volunteer at North Adams’ veterans service office, and through her work, she says she’s  noticed a lack of support for the families of returning veterans.

With the help of co-founder Kathryn McCarthy, Litchfield helped form the new Berkshire Veterans WINS Program. WINS stands for Women in Need of Services, and the groups goal is to provide a place where the family members of veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder can communicate, educate themselves, and adjust to living with a family member  suffering from the condition.

The Center for Disease Control defines PTSD as “intense physical and emotional response to

thoughts and reminders of [an] event that last for many weeks or months after the traumatic

event.” Returning veterans are frequently affected by the condition. Symptoms can include re-living the event through flashbacks, nightmares, tension headaches, feelings of guilt, symptoms of avoidance, and symptoms of arousal including trouble sleeping, irritability, and outbursts of anger.

Kathryn McCarthy, co-founder of the WINS program, was married to a veteran suffering from PTSD. McCarthy said it’s her own experiences that drove her to help from the organization to help those who have been through situations similar to her own.

Beginning next week, meetings will be held at the First Baptist Church in North Adams and are open for anyone looking to share or seek information on living with PTSD.   

Rebecca Litchfield, a veteran herself, said that the need for the program not just in North Adams or Berkshire County, but across the United States is overwhelming.

Others involved in helping organize ideas for the program include North Adams City Councilor Marie Harpin and 1st Berkshire District State Representative Gail Cariddi.

The first of the weekly meetings will be held on Wednesday, September 19th at 7 pm at the First Baptist Church, 131 Main St., North Adams, MA.

Those with questions can call Rebecca Litchfield at 413-662-3040, or Kathryn McCarthy at 413-743-8264.