SOLDIERING ON

Psychologist’s stress management training inspires a book for war veterans

BY ERIK FREITAS ’11

Gayle Rozantine MA ’90, founder of the Center for Health and Well-Being in Savannah, Ga., is putting her psychology degree to work making a difference in the lives of others.

Rozantine’s own situation in pursuing a master’s degree at WCU prompted a professional focus: 43 and out of the classroom for two decades, she was making a long commute from Flat Rock and juggling parenthood and academics. “I was under a great deal of stress, so I chose stress management training as a project for my class in behavioral modification,” she said.

Rozantine earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Tennessee in 1995 and gained professional experience as a clinical fellow in behavioral medicine after moving to Georgia. “My career in psychology was directly affected by the training I received at WCU,” she said. “The program was academically rigorous and provided a sound foundation for my further studies.”

Throughout her career, she has treated numerous war veterans who suffer from the long-term effects of their involvement in battle. She vividly remembers an encounter with a Vietnam War veteran afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder. “His first words were, ‘You’ve got to help me, doc. I’ve lost my mind,’” she said. “We worked for several months to help him recover. He thanked me for helping him make sense of this terrifying and confusing experience.” Her recently published book, “At Ease, Soldier! How to Leave the War Downrange and Feel at Home Again,” aims to reach military veterans and personnel traumatized by wartime experiences. Rozantine also has written a clinician’s guide for using the book in therapeutic settings.

“I enjoy empowering people – teaching them new coping strategies and helping them make meaning of the challenges they face,” Rozantine said. “My training in health psychology has taught me about the negative effects of stress on mental and physical health. I want to provide a comforting environment in which patients can talk about uncomfortable subjects.”

Erik Freitas ’11 majored in English, with a concentration in professional writing, and was an intern in the Office of Public Relations in spring 2011.