PočetnaOsnivačiO namaAktivnostiVodič za PTSPKontakti


The Association of Veterans of War 1992-1995
Suffering from PTSD "STEĆAK“Tuzla

 “Stećak Self-Help Group Therapy Project”

Who We Are
The Association of Veterans of War 1992-1995 suffering from PTSD “Stecak” is a non-governmental and apolitical organization established in Tuzla in 2004 with a support from local psychiatrists, therapists, and municipal authorities. Our main mission is to protect and unite interests of former combatants diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), help them in a recovery process, and reintegrate them into their families and local society. Currently, our organization has around 300 members from Tuzla municipality.

What We Struggle with: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is a psychological response to a traumatic event that is outside the range of usual human experience. As soldiers and military personnel we were exposed to various severe traumatic events during the war. After the end of the war returning back to our homes and families to start a normal life most of us have evolved significant psychological problems (nightmares, flashbacks, suicide attempts, and various psychosomatic disorders). Although PTSD has become recognized in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the beginning of the war in 1992 health-care and welfare systems on state and entities’ levels were caught unprepared to handle the “epidemic” of PTSD in post-war years. Twelve years after the end of the war there is no Trauma Center for war veterans in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are treated in psychiatric clinics and municipal hospitals facing inadequate services as well as stigmatization being put together with inpatients. This situation has tragic consequences in the Canton of Tuzla where the largest population of war veterans in FBIH is found and where more than 800 of our comrades in arms have committed suicide since the end of the war. Today war veterans suffering from PTSD are also facing a legislative discrimination especially due to The Act of Rights of Defenders and their Families in FBIH (2004, renegotiated 2006). The Act underestimates the relevance of psychological trauma in comparison to physical injuries and thus creates a substantial inequality in terms of the right of war veterans suffering from PTSD on invalidity. The definition of PTSD by the Act is problematic (especially regarding the impact of the disorder on personality structure) and the delineation of PTSD symptoms till 23.12. 1997 that creates the right on acquiring invalidity (Article 9. of the Law) shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the disorder. Contrary to the Act’s artificial date world-leading scholars from the United States, Israel, and other countries have proved that PTSD might occur among war veterans even twenty years after a traumatic event (and not only within two years after the war as the Act suggests).

What We Do
Main activities of the organization are:

1. Reunion of the veterans of war 1992-1995 suffering from PTSD

2. Protection of status and the promotion of interests of all veterans and all of the partakers in the war 1992-1995 suffering from PTSD regardless of their ethnicity, religious affiliation, or political orientation

3. Self-help group therapies hold by trained members of the organization and supervised by local psychiatrists and therapists

4. Prevention of secondary traumatization among our spouses, children and family relatives

5. Organization of discussion panels and education sessions about PTSD for members, their families and wider public

6. Communication and cooperation with local NGOs focusing on war traumatization among women and children, promoting human rights, and preventing violence


What We Want to Achive
Goals of the organization:

1. To change The Act of Rights of Defenders and their Families in FBIH in terms of proper definition of PTSD, deletion of a unjustified date barrier for the recognition of PTSD among war veterans, and promotion of rights of war veteran population suffering from PTSD

2. To open Trauma Center in the Canton of Tuzla where an appropriate treatment and psychological assistance will be available to all war veterans and partakers in the war 1992 – 1995

3. To initiate municipal offices for psycho-social help where war veterans and their families can learn about their rights and get advices about treatment or conflict resolution 

4. To establish a library (including audio and video archive) collecting information about PTSD (that can be in future transformed into an information and documentation center for PTSD in Bosnia and Herzegovina)

5. To strengthen cooperation with a non-governmental sector in the region and to establish links with international war veteran organizations

Our Leading Project: Self-Help Group Therapy
We consider the self-help group therapy as one of the main ongoing projects of the organization. Its main purpose is to revive interpersonal relations and trust that have been impaired by PTSD. The self-help group is a voluntary session that is hold by trained member (that is supervised by professional therapists and psychiatrists) of the organization with five members of the organization as participants. Trainers and participants are supposed to follow particular rules such as no alcohol or drug usage, no nationalistic or other discriminative insults, no verbal or physical aggression, respectful attitude toward trainer and members of the group and their feelings, perceptions, and stories. Important features of the self-help group are sharing experiences about psychic problems as well as recovery process.  
Functions of self-help group:

1. Emotional support

2. Trust building

3. Worldview sharing

4. Knowledge sharing

5. Experience sharing

6. Mutual understanding

7. Community building

8. Self-empowerment

Trough the self-help groups we are succeeding step by step in restoring our personalities, channeling traumatic emotions and memories, and forming trustful relations

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