Returning veterans represent some of the greatest challenges for this country. The consequences of recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan affect every returning veteran. Some veterans experience more minor adjustments, for example needing only two-three months to readjust to civilian life and managing their reactions to noise, smells or indelicate comments. Others’ changes are more dramatic and can include seemingly irrational emotional responses to situations or individuals. These deeper changes can result in alienation or physical confrontation; many veterans suffer guilt, rage, memory loss and paranoia from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).
Understanding the impact of military culture and the overlay of war is critical to responding to and dealing with veterans in a mediation setting. The effects are threshold issues when mediating with veterans attempting to reintegrate into their families and the communities. The good news is that mediation is well suited in helping veterans deal with their present circumstances: we can facilitate conversations and help them set reasonable goals with others who are important in their lives. The future-orientation and structure of mediation offer veterans and those around them the opportunity to make practical and incremental changes; we have found that they use mediation to establish new relationships and activities consistent with their new reality. The mediation process can help veterans sort through the complex entitlement resulting from their services, while allowing the intra-personal battles of the veteran to other interventions and other professionals.
Mark Kleiman, Esq. began his career as an attorney in Family Court for the Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society. Recognizing the system as inadequate to deal with family issues, he founded and has been executive director of Community Mediation Services, Inc. in New York City since 1983. Since then he has developed court diversion programs across the city in the areas of juvenile justice, community and family mediation, education, child welfare, youth development and homelessness. Programs include: the Court-funded community mediation program for Queens, a Fatherhood Program, Homelessness Prevention Program, a Restorative Justice Program for Delinquents as well as the first New York City-wide Family Court Custody Mediation Program.
Mark was a founding member of both the New York City and New York State divorce mediation councils, a former board member of the New York State Dispute Resolution Association (NYSDRA) and former board member of The National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM). As a founding member of Mediators Beyond Borders, he has established a partnership between CMS and Mosaica, the community mediation program in Jerusalem as part of MBB’s Israel Project. An Office of Court Administration certified trainer, he co-authored the court’s first custody/visitation mediation curriculum. He also co-wrote a conflict resolution curriculum for Americorps volunteers for NAFCM. Mr. Kleiman has created the Values-Centered Mediation model, an approach to mediation, and has trained over 750 mediators in this model.
He is the 2011 winner of NYSDRA’s Lawrence Cooke award for Innovation in Mediation and the 2013 Association for Conflict Resolution’s John M. Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award.