New combat veteran group forming

Mental health counselor Jeff Rogers knows firsthand that serving in a combat zone can be a unique, difficult-to-describe experience.

Rogers and fellow Vietnam veteran Steve Burr are in the process of forming a group of former military personnel from any era who spent time in a conflict zone in any capacity.

“It’s not designed to be a therapy group,” Rogers said.

Rogers, a counselor at the Whidbey Veterans Resource Center, and Burr, volunteer coordinator at Healing Circles Langley, will facilitate the meetings twice a month starting Oct. 2.

The idea is to get people together who understand each other so they can talk about some of those experiences freely and how they’ve impacted their lives. In his time as a counselor for veterans, Rogers said, he’s found many don’t like to discuss their past, but it can help if they’re with others who might have had common experiences.

“When you’re in a war, it affects you one way or another for your whole life,” he said.

He served in a variety of capacities in the Navy in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. He later became a lawyer, specializing in mental health until he went back to school to get a counseling degree. He said he ended up working with veterans “by chance” but found that he loved the work.

He and his wife moved to Whidbey a couple of years ago, and he started counseling pro bono at the Whidbey Island Veterans Resource Center about one year ago. Rogers and Burr plan to hold the group 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at Healing Circles Langley.

Rogers said he hopes the program will serve a niche group that currently doesn’t have special services. Although it’s more of a focused groups than some of the others available to veterans, it is still open to people of all ages who served in any capacity, not just armed combat.

He knows that people are often reluctant to join groups such as these.

“Most people, when they push themselves to try it, like it,” he said. “It’s usually a lot more comfortable than people think it will be. In fact, it can be downright fun.”

Registration is required to participate. Contact Jeff Rogers at 360-499-1473 or or Steve Burr at 425-339-0101.

The Combat Veterans Group will meet 7-8:30 p.m., First and Third Wednesdays of the month at Healing Circles Langley, 534 Camano Ave.