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Fraser Center East to open next Sunday

POSTED: February 18, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Hinesville’s Fraser Counseling Center has a new partner.

Dr. Larry Evans — pastor of Midway Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, and licensed family therapist, pastoral counselor and clinical hypnotherapist — will collaborate with Dr. Alan Baroody, Fraser Counseling Center executive director. The Midway Community Wellness and Enrichment Center, Fraser Center East, will open its doors with a formal ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. Co-located at the church, the center will offer similar services and programs as the Fraser Center. Evans has extensive experience in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and victims of domestic violence.

“When my wife and I moved to Savannah from Lancaster, Pa., we were looking for a place similar to our home in Louisiana,” said Evans, a graduate of Duke Divinity School and Wesley Theological Seminary. “I wasn’t really looking to pastor another church, but we heard about this church and the work at the Fraser Center, and I started thinking, ‘How can my skills be useful to this community?’”

Prior to becoming a chaplain, Evans served more than 12 years in the infantry, specifically working with Special Operations Forces and the American Division in Vietnam. After a long break in service in which he completed his divinity degree and served as a pastor/counselor in rough neighborhoods of his hometown of New Orleans, he returned to active duty as a chaplain but continued to serve with combat arms units.

After 10 years with the Chaplains Corps, Evans retired from the Army and returned to private practice as a pastor and counselor. He said he’s able to get through to soldiers suffering from PTSD because of his experiences.

“I have PTSD, but it does not have me,” he laughed, noting that soldiers “soften up” when they realize he knows what they’re going through because he’s already experienced the same thoughts and emotions. “This is what I attempt to get through to those who have the disease.”

Evans said the healing process of any disease, especially PTSD, is to get to the point of “living well,” which he described as knowing how to make “qualitative life choices contributing to the health and welfare of others, society and self.”

While explaining PTSD, he said the Army prepares a soldier for combat by stressing the mission. A soldier has to focus on the mission to stay alive, Evans said. He said this indoctrination process is done at the lowest levels of the brain, which enables the soldier to react to combat situations without thinking.

It’s when a soldier returns from war that there’s a problem, because he or she hasn’t been deprogrammed, so he can once again think on a higher level.

“My job as a (counselor/therapist) is to use the holistic model (of treating the whole person — mind, body and spirit), so he or she can get back to being a (normal) human being again,” he said. “My purpose is to create an environment whereby everyone will have access to healing, wholesomeness and life-enriching skills.”

Evans has been approved as a provider by Military OneSource and TriCare. Fraser Center East is located at 8115 E. Oglethorpe Highway in Midway right next to Dorchester Academy. For more information, call 369-7777.

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