January 3, 2016
Tom Roeder | Colorado Springs Gazette
Military families can learn how to help troops and veterans struggling with mental illness during classes offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Colorado Springs.
The classes, held on Wednesday evenings for six weeks starting Jan. 20, aim to give families coping techniques and tips on resources for mental health care. It's taught by Jim Bloise, a 20-year Army veteran, and wife Jane, who will outline their experiences dealing with mental illness in the family.
"I think this is a big need," Jane Bloise said, explaining that while there are plenty of services to help veterans with mental illness, few are tailored to family members who offer care and support.
Jim Bloise, a retired combat engineer, said dealing with mental illness can be an especially tough task for military families, where behavioral health problems can carry a stigma.
"In the past it was seen as a weakness," he said.
NAMI offers support to families struggling with mental illness in all walks of life, but the free "Homefront" series is geared to those with military ties.
Among the skills taught are how to navigate bureaucracy to get care and how to deal with war-caused mental wounds.
"It gives them a tool set that will really help them through some of the struggles," Jim Bloise said.
It also gives families a chance to talk about something that they fear discussing in many circles.
"They can really be honest about things," Jim Bloise said. "It lets people let their guard down."
Jane Bloise said families will gain supportive peers who understand the hurdles they face.
"The need to know they're not alone," she said.
To get more information or sign up for the classes, go to namicoloradosprings.org or call 473-8477.