In our we touched upon the effectiveness of exercise and fitness as just one of the many solution strategies in dealing with Combat PTSD. This segment will focus on another effective solution.
Solution Strategy 2: Individual and Family Counseling.
According to recently published data from the Department of Defense, suicide amongst U.S. Armed Forces Veterans has doubled in the last month alone.
In response to the explosive growth of suicides amongst our combat veterans a myriad of mental health services are being offered to our returning war vets through a growing network of VA affiliated Veterans Service Centers.
What's more, many of these counselors are combat veterans themselves and that makes taking the first step much easier for vets that would normally avoid the "shrink" However, as one Combat Veteran mental health practitioner stated:
"Combat veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have a tendency to isolate themselves socially.”
As a result, far too few of our warriors ever take the first step to meet with a mental health specialist. The stigma attached to such "treatment" is still, unfortunately, one of weakness. This is perhaps the biggest challenge we face.
One Doctor, also a combat veteran and counselor for veterans recently stated that combat veterans:
“also tend to develop faulty thoughts regarding their self worth and automatic responses to stress stimulated by various triggers."
So how do we get our combat vets to talk about the very trauma that they all just want to forget? Or Better yet get them to talk about things they think are “no big deal”?
I can’t answer that question. The trigger seems to be different for each of us.
I personally waited sixteen years to talk to a “professional” During those years I actually wrote a college paper claiming that PTSD was not real. Talk about denial. Sure, I have regular nightmares and wake up in cold sweats. But I thought that was normal. I also thought it was normal to feel on guard at all times, to need to sit with my back to the wall and have line of sight to any doors or windows, to check the house when I come home to be sure it is “secure”, to have vivid memories of combat come rushing back after smelling diesel fumes or certain foods or hearing certain sounds.
I thought all that was normal. But I now realize it is far from normal and will eventually cause problems. I was able to keep the lid on it for quite a while. But like a dirty wound the infection spreads and impacts us in many ways.
Counseling for me has been very effective. I only wish I had started sooner, like the day I completed active service. I am not alone. Evidence based information from latest research on PTSD continue to demonstrate the following:
A. "Treatment through counseling is essential to help veterans identify their personal triggers to help avoid or minimize the resulting arousal."
B. "Helping to identify automatic thoughts begins a process to help veterans develop adaptive responses and manage symptoms of PTSD."
C. "Positive social support is a powerful tool for recovery. Counseling treatment helps the veteran to develop positive social supports with a therapist and also with other veterans."
Counseling services are readily available for combat veterans and usually at no cost to the veteran or the family.
To find out more, contact your local VA. If you are in the greater Danbury area contact the Danbury Vet Center (203) 790-4000.
In our next segment we will cover more solutions that are working now.