AJC: Iraq war veteran helps others recover from invisible wounds at Emory

By Jeremy Redmon | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Dec. 24, 2019

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A PhD student in Emory's Laney Graduate School, Michael Yandell works as a pastoral consultant for the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program. Emory Photo/Video

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Editor's note: Emory PhD student Michael Yandell was featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for his work as a pastoral consultant with the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program.

Michael Yandell deployed to Iraq in 2004 for one of the most dangerous missions in the war: finding and destroying roadside bombs. He was awarded a Purple Heart that year after he was injured in Baghdad while retrieving an old and rusted artillery shell loaded with the nerve agent sarin.

That harrowing experience shook his confidence. About to redeploy two years later, Yandell felt overwhelmed getting his unit ready. He suffered from sleeplessness, obsessed about his unit’s preparations and could not express himself well, all while despairing over the constantly shifting focus of the war. Ultimately, Yandell was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was medically retired from the military in 2006 as a sergeant.

Those experiences give Yandell instant credibility in his role as a pastoral consultant at the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, which treats anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Such illnesses and injuries are common among veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

 

Yandell was also the subject of an in-depth Emory News Center feature about how his experiences in Iraq led him to pursue graduate education in religion in order to study moral injury.

View "A veteran's next mission" in the Emory News Center »