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Dr. Clyde Angel, John Sullivan, and Dr. Vincent Starnino

At My Core, I’m Not the Same: Spiritual Injury and Military Trauma (part 1 of 2)

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“What we noticed if we look at all the spiritual wounds that people carried with them for long periods of time -what seemed to be a common theme throughout all of that was avoidance. We know with the PTSD literature, avoidance is a major symptom of PTSD… What we were able to do is gather some insight into how does avoidance play out when it comes to spirituality and religion?”

Dr. Clyde Angel,
John Sullivan, &
Dr. Vincent Starnino

In the first of two episodes, our guests Dr. Clyde Angel, John Sullivan, and Dr. Vincent Starnino differentiate between religion and spirituality, and their role in meaning making. They use the images of shattered spirituality and wounding to emphasize the depth of traumatic experiences by service veterans. Our guests discuss their research and what they are learning about the impact of spiritual risk and protective factors on healing spiritual injury and wounding.

Clyde Angel, DMin., BCC, LPC, VHA-CM, has been Chief at Chaplain Services at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center since November 2008. He completed a Masters of Divinity in 1987 and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky in 1993. His post-doctoral work focused on counseling and mental health. Chaplain Angel is a veteran of the U.S. Army and currently works extensively with veterans in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse in addition to his administrative responsibilities as director of the Chaplain Service Department at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center.

John Sullivan, retired LCSW, had his own private practice for over 45 years. His clinical experience includes working in state, federal, profit, and nonprofit institutions. He received his MSW from the University of Missouri School of Social Work. He was an adjunct professor at the University of Indiana, Purdue University in Indianapolis (IUPUI), and University of Indianapolis and was a field instructor for graduate students at IUPUI School of Social Work. Mr. Sullivan has authored a book called Subhuman Behavior and was a member of Conscience Works Research Group.

Dr. Vincent R. Starnino, LCSW, PhD, is an associate professor at Indiana University School of Social Work (IUPUI), where he teaches individual therapy and group work courses in the mental health and addictions concentration. Dr. Starnino has experience conducting research on innovative and holistic practice approaches focused on improving mental health, including those that take spiritual components into consideration. He has conducted research and has published on recovery-based interventions for people diagnosed with severe mental illnesses and has expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research, including intervention research. Dr. Starnino has most recently conducted a study examining spiritual wounding among veterans with PTSD, discussed in this episode.

Interviewer: Thomas Nochajski, PhD

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