This program is the mainstay of M-STAR and the main reason it was started. There are no other programs in the state of Michigan that offer one on one peer counseling to amputees. In fact there is only one program in the state of Michigan that even offers help to amputees and that program is only directed to providing some kind of support over the Internet and in their own geographic area. It does not offer peer counseling. While I was contemplating starting a group of peer counselors and amputee support services I was not only shocked but surprised that Michigan does not have much support for amputees while in fact, Michigan is a leader in both surgical and traumatic amputations. Currently Michigan’s occupational safety program does have a project going to help diminish the amount of occupational traumatic amputations. This program is only geared towards the prevention of amputations and does not provide any kind of peer support.
While it is assumed by society that an amputation, both surgical and traumatic is JUST the loss of a limb, they are sadly mistaken and their (societies) assumption is dead wrong. When an amputation takes place more than just a limb is lost. Depending on the circumstances involved and the financial status of the individual involved, many other losses take place and a whole new world is opened up to the amputee that is usually unforseen by anyone. Some of the other factors involved in an amputees life beyond the physical are social, financial and psychological and none of these factors are addressed by anyone, believe me I’ve gone through it!
It is the intention of M-STAR to address these and all of the other problems that an amputee faces by providing a peer counseling program that will be staffed by amputees who understand the entire amputation process. The peer counseling program will provide some of the following services to amputees:
One of the biggest problems facing new amputees is the integration back into society. After they have gone through the extreme pain and psychic trauma of an amputation and the grieving process of losing a limb or two, after they have lost their self esteem and self confidence and perhaps their significant other (divorce or separation because of the amputation a lot of partners don’t want to live with an amputee) and after they have hibernated in their home for quite some time because of all of these things and the shame (false shame) of losing a limb and they are fortunate enough to have survived all of this it is time for them to integrate themselves back into society. (This can be a very traumatic experience in and of itself)
M-STAR will provide social events that are conducive to the amputee and at the same time give the new amputee the opportunity to associate with other amputees who have gone before them, who have experienced the same process that they have and can understand what they are going through. This will serve as a therapeutic tool as well as a social integration tool for the amputee. And as time goes by the amputee will feel more comfortable in his or her situation and able to carry on life as usual and become a productive asset to themselves, their family and society once again.
All amputees have gone through a very unique process and their experience is a valuable tool that can be used to educate society. In many instances amputees are viewed as an outcast, regardless of their social standing, amputees are sometimes looked at very strangely and as a stigma in society, kind of like the leper in the days of old. This only further enhances any negative feelings an amputee may have about themselves and their appearance . Amputees can participate in a speakers bureau and educate the public and achieve two goals. Heal themselves and provide information to the public. Some of the areas that an amputee can do this is:
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