The War Trauma Center is a voluntary, nonpartisan, and not-for-profit organization. Our activities bring together psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, people with war experience, activists, and volunteers. Together, we are working at building peace in the Western Balkans through, alleviating the mental health consequences of war for individuals, families, and society, and through constructively using war experience in society.
Mental health consequences of war are difficult to recognize and are marginalized because:
All the activities of the organization are conducted in three main programs: Counseling Center, Support Groups for People with War Experience, and Constructive Usage of War Experience. Through these programs the Center: contributes to the psychological stabilization of people with war experience; educates about the mental and societal consequences of war and the ways to overcome them; represents and advocates, on all levels of society, opens the issues of mental and other societal consequences of war in order to create an open environment for resolving them; participates in the development of society's constructive relationship with the war past and a model for involving war veterans and other people with mental health consequences of war, to give their contributions to this process. In the program Counseling Center individuals receive free direct psychological support in overcoming suffering and improving the quality of their lives. The program Support Groups contributes to the psychological stabilization of war veterans and their families, the quality reintegration of veterans into society, as well as the process of facing the war past. The program Constructive Usage of War Experience offers an approach and model for using war experience for improving society and building sustainable peace in the region. The programs of the War Trauma Center are based on the needs expressed by beneficiaries.
The Center began work in 1999 as The Association for the Protection of the Mental Health of War Veterans and Victims of the Wars 1991-1999. As an informal group of professionals, neuropsychiatrists, and volunteer psychologists who provided counseling services for citizens of Novi Sad during the bombing. In 2002, we became known as the War Trauma Center.
The Center today, has developed from a small volunteer association into an organization that has succeeded in combining professional work and peace work. From 1999-2002 free psychological support was offered and legal support for participants of war and their families: From 2002-2005 we added components of reintegration of war veterans through overcoming the traumatic consequences of war and sensitizing society to their problems. The substantial widening of the range of our activities in this period was achieved in close cooperation with the German organization "Life Without Weapons"(Ohne Rüsting Leben), represented by Ms.Ursula Renner.
By 2007, in parallel with direct work with beneficiaries, we began running education programs for professionals from Macedonia and Serbia to work with war traumatize people. We held 10 seminars about the dismal war trauma of Serbian and Albanian war veterans. Our professionals held lectures for psychologists, psychiatrists, and health workers from psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation and medical centers throughout Serbia. We held lectures about our approach to war trauma and to present our work in: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Humboldt University and Berghof Institute in Berlin; The German Embassy in Belgrade, Embassy of Switzerland in Belgrade and Skopje; University of Konstanz; University of Hamburg and Hamburg Institute for Social Research; The German Army Forces Command in Koblenz; Bonn International Center for Conversion; Military Medical Academy in Belgrade; Medical Societies in Novi Sad and Subotica; Philosophy Faculties in Ljubljana, Novi Sad, and Niš, and The Novi Sad Headquarters, Yugoslavia Army. We released the book Oh Where Have You Been My Blue-Eyed Son? By: Vladan Beara and Predrag Miljanović. In partnership with OSCE (The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), we organized 5 public forums in Serbia, which included the promotion of this book and discussion about the position of veterans in society.
The wider society became familiar with us through the project “Wake up Veterans”, which was born out of a partnership with the Dutch organization Kontakt der Kontinenten from Zusterberg. This project lasting from 2007 – 2010, created the conditions for continuous dialogue between war veterans and other members of society. This was financed by the Social Transformation Program Central and Eastern Europe (Matra), and partners in the project were Cogis and The Veterans Institute from The Netherlands. Over the years our network of associates and partners has grown, but there has always been room for all who share our values and are ready to work with us on shared goals.
With war veterans, which is where the expertise of the the War Trauma Center is heavily focused, mental health consequences are expressed as: war trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, increased number of suicides, dysfunctional families and an increase in domestic violence, substance abuse, experience of rejection, as well as very real marginalization. We believe that all people who participated in war are war veterans, regardless on the length of their participation or the role they carried out in their unit. Lead by the idea “War Participants as Peacebuilders”, the War Trauma Center recognized people with war experience as an irreplaceable potential for contributing to the process of building sustainable peace. Their life experiences are an important basis for learning and positively changing society. They are the people that have the greatest credibility in discussing the consequences of war and the value of peace. For this they need support from their families, friends, and professionals, which are prepared to change the way of looking at this societal group.
Miloš Antić – Executive Director
Vladan Beara – Program Consultant
Predrag Miljanović – Coordinator for the program Support Groups
Branislava Vajagić – Program Associate
Milan Colić – Coordinator of the program Constructive Usage of War Experience
Melanija Kološnjai Nenin – Program Consultant
Lane Stopher – Volunteer, Mennonite Central Committee
Slađana Ljubičić – Communications Associate
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