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Services For Veterans With Ptsd

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How Effective Is Rehab At Treating Ptsd And Addiction

Jacksonville Army veteran uses social media to help fellow soldiers struggling with PTSD

As PTSD often co-occurs with conditions like addiction, many facilities offer treatment that addresses both. This is known as dual diagnosis treatment or treating co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder. Veteran-specific treatment programs can be effective for treating veterans with both PTSD and addiction. Trauma-focused therapies and, in many cases, medications, are offered by drug rehabs that provide these services. These treatments have been demonstrated effectiveness in reducing the frequency or intensity of symptoms in helping people recover from addiction and PTSD.5

Is Help Available For Veterans And Family Members With Addictions

Yes. All of the providers described above can help with substance abuse counseling. In addition, the Friends of Recovery is a non-profit organization that advocates for Vermonters seeking independence from their addictions. They are a great resource for finding out what programs are available in your local area.

Symptoms & Triggers Of Ptsd

Symptoms of PTSD can vary from person to person and can be influenced by specific triggers. Symptoms of PTSD often show up soon after the trauma, but they can also begin months or years after the event. People can have ongoing and persistent symptoms that come and go for years.5

Common symptoms of PTSD include:3, 5

  • Re-experiencing the event. You may feel like you are reliving the trauma , especially if you are exposed to a trigger that reminds you of the event.
  • You avoid things, people, or places that remind you of the traumatic event. You might avoid talking about the event or your feelings about it with others.
  • Cognitive and behavioral symptoms. You might feel numb, depressed, mistrustful of others, think the world is dangerous, or feel shame or guilt about the event. You might feel like you should have done more or that you could have prevented the event from happening. You could have increased negative feelings about yourself. Many people feel unable to experience pleasure.
  • Hyperarousal and reactivity. You may feel keyed up or on edge, like you must always be on the lookout for danger even when theres no apparent threat. You might feel angry or irritable, have trouble sleeping, or be easily startled.

You may not always be consciously aware of triggers that elicit a PTSD reaction. Common triggers of PTSD can include anything that reminds you of the event, such as:3, 12

  • Words and phrases.
  • Recent traumatic events.

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Veterans With Ptsd: Associated Health Risks

While the symptoms of PTSD can prove overwhelming in their own right, the condition is closely linked to other health risks in epidemiological research. Veterans who experience PTSD are at elevated risk for several related physical and psychological challenges. In some cases, the connection between these health problems is well understood in others, the basis of the relationship requires further exploration.

Some of the health problems linked to PTSD, either in research pertaining specifically to veterans or among individuals with PTSD more generally, are as follows:

Rates Of Ptsd Among Veterans By War

Service Dog For Veterans With Ptsd

Some research suggests that rates of PTSD differ among veterans who served in different military conflicts. Indeed, there is compelling statistical evidence that military personnel who served in certain wars were somewhat more likely to develop PTSD symptoms.

  • Vietnam War Veterans: The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, conducted from 1986 to 1988, found that 15.2% of men and 8.1% of women who served in Vietnam met diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Additionally, the estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 30.9% among men who served in Vietnam and 26.9% among women. In a more recent study, researchers also found that PTSD was more prevalent among Vietnam veterans who had served in the theater of combat.
  • Gulf War Veterans: In a study of over 11,000 Gulf War veterans conducted from 1995 to 1997, researcher Han K. Kang and his colleagues found that 12.1% had PTSD at the time they were surveyed.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans: In a 2008 study, researchers at the RAND Corporation analyzed the psychological health of 1,938 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom . OEF commenced in Afghanistan in 2001, whereas OIF launched in 2003. Among these veterans, 13.8% met criteria for PTSD at the time they were assessed.

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Mental Health And Suicide Risk

PTSD is a mental health disorder, so it can significantly affect your overall mental health and quality of life. The disorder can lead to other mental health issues like depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It can also get in the way of you living your life.

As it affects your relationships and jobs, you may start to feel overwhelmed, which can lead to issues like depression. If you experience panic attacks or frequent flashbacks, you may start to experience generalized anxiety between episodes. Some people also experience social anxiety for fear that they will have a PTSD-related episode in public or around friends or family. This can lead to isolation, which can worsen mental health.

PTSD may also cause suicidal thoughts and ideation. PTSD is a significant risk factor in suicides, especially among women. Around 0.6% of suicides in men are linked to PTSD the disorder was also a factor in 3.0% of suicides in women, according to the study.

Problems Related To Ptsd

Some other problems are more common for people with PTSD. These include:

  • depression
  • alcohol and substance use problems
  • problems in relationships, work, school, or other important activities
  • physical symptoms
  • increased risk of medical problems

Did you know?

  • More than half of men with PTSD have alcohol problems.
  • Nearly half of women with PTSD also suffer from depression.

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Are There Any Options Other Than The Va For Mental Health Care

Yes. Veterans don’t have to get their mental health care from the VA. Even though the VA may be responsible for a veterans care, veterans shouldn’t limit themselves. Veterans should pick the assistance that best suits their individual needs, or the needs of their family. Below are some other options to consider:

Community Mental Health Clinics

The State of Vermont Department of Mental Health has established relationships with 16 different community mental health clinics spread across Vermont. Every county has at least one clinic. These clinics are operated by non-profit organizations, not the government. The care they provide is 100% confidential.

Military OneSource

Military OneSource offers short-term, non-medical counseling services to all active duty, reserve, and national guard members and their families. Counseling is available both in-person and over the telephone. They are a good first step when the veteran or family member needs temporary assistance readjusting. Their operators are availabe 24/7. If you go to their website, look for the “24/7 Help Center” box at the top right.

Coverage from Insurance

Understanding A Veteran With Ptsd

Legislation to provide service dogs for veterans with PTSD

Servicemen and women oftentimes face unique challenges when leaving active duty and readjusting to civilian life.

As explained by U.S. Veterans Magazine, these challenges include

  • discovering ways to re-establish their roles within the family,
  • having to find and obtain a civilian job ,
  • and adjusting to a life that involves making their own choices versus being told what to do, how to do it, and when.

However, sometimes soldiers also return home with challenges related to their mental wellbeing as a result of what theyve witnessed while on active duty. And one of the most common mental challenges is post-traumatic stress disorder .

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Connecting Veterans To Needed Care

Delivered as part of both VA and DoD programs, a growing list of connected care solutions offer great promise when it comes to monitoring and regulating critical daily health routines for Veterans.

New solutions integrate easy-to-use, low-impact devices and services into an outpatient therapy regime and provide direct connectivity to caregivers.

Those veterans who crave independence but need medical support can now ease their way back into society, while staying in touch with their VA physicians.

What Is Combat Ptsd

Combat PTSD is defined by the VA as exposure to traumatic events during war. This exposure could include life-threatening combat situations, but witnessing injury and death or handling human remains can also be traumatic and can trigger PTSD.

To receive a combat PTSD diagnosis, you must have experienced a combat stressor event in the VAs eyes. You must show the VA that there was a stressor event related to your military service causing your condition.

To win a combat PTSD claim, the VA will require that you have exposure to actual or threatened death or serious injury in one or more of these ways:

  • You directly experienced a traumatic event
  • You witnessed traumatic events that happened to others
  • You experienced repeated or extreme exposure to details of the traumatic event

Specific examples of combat stressors include:

  • Enemy ambushes or IED attacks
  • Rocket or mortar attacks on your location
  • Witnessing the death of another service member while deployed

For the event to be considered a combat stressor, the stressor must have occurred while you were engaged in combat during a period of war, campaign, or expedition. For example, a deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, where you were engaged in direct action with the enemy, would qualify as a combat stressor.

Receiving hazardous duty pay is another example of a way to prove you were in combat.

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Organizations Helping Ptsd Veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur when an individual experiences a traumatic event like combat, military sexual trauma, violence, and terrorism. It is normal for most people to have a stress reaction after a traumatic experience. But, if the reaction doesnt dissipate or begins to disrupt daily life, then you may have PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD, eight out of every 100 veterans have PTSD.

If you or a fellow comrade is struggling with PTSD, here are nine organizations that can help in no particular order:

The Civilian Health And Medical Program Of The Department Of Veterans Affairs

PTSD Defined, Part 1

Current spouses, surviving spouses and children of veterans with disabilities who do not qualify for Tricare may be eligible for health insurance through CHAMPVA, a cost-sharing program. In the context of our discussion about PTSD, CHAMPVA helps to cover mental health services and other medical services. Those in need of counseling as a result of caring for a loved one will find this assistance valuable.

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A Renewed Effort For Compassionate Ptsd/mtbi Support

Sleep disturbances, emotional outbursts, confusion, and depression are examples of symptoms shared by both PTSD and mTBI sufferers.

While mTBI symptoms can last for a year or more1, they eventually dissipate. Effects of PTSD, however, can remain with a Veteran for life.

Withdrawn into themselves, many vets find it difficult to seek assistance. Support programs for PTSD recovery must assure the dignity of each individual. Only by building confidence and independence, and restoring pride can we bring all Veterans back into the community as healthy citizens.

Va Makes Mtbi And Ptsd A High Priority

The VAs Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion initiative brings together Veterans, clinicians, and industry thought leaders to promote forward thinking dialogue and facilitate solutions that address the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration of patients with mTBI and/or PTSD. From an initial two-day event held in April , will come a united effort toward tangible results.

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Additional Types Of Counseling

In addition to the treatments described above, other types of counseling may be helpful in treating PTSD.

Through group therapy, service members can talk about their trauma or learn skills to manage symptoms of PTSD . Many groups are effective and popular among those who have had similar traumatic experiences. Group therapy can help those with PTSD by giving them a chance to share their stories with others, feel more comfortable talking about their own trauma, and by connecting with others who have experienced similar problems or feelings. Some types of cognitive behavioral therapy can also be provided in a group setting.

Family and couples therapy are methods of counseling that include the service member’s family members. A therapist helps all of those involved communicate, maintain good relationships, and cope with tough emotions. PTSD can sometimes have a significant negative impact on relationships, making this mode of therapy particularly helpful in some cases.

How To File A Va Claim For Combat Ptsd

PTSD Stressors for VA Disability Benefits Explained

To file a VA claim for combat PTSD, youll be required to prove these three elements:

  • You have a current medical diagnosis of PTSD
  • Your combat PTSD was caused by a stressor event during your military service, AND
  • You have a medical nexus that links your PTSD to the stressor event
  • Keep in mind that to be diagnosed with PTSD, your symptoms must last at least one month.

    There are two forms youre required to submit with your combat PTSD claim. The first form is filled out by you, and the second form is completed by a medical examiner.

    Form 1: VA Form 21-0781

    To file a claim for combat PTSD, you must use VA Form 21-0781: Statement In Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder . This form is for first-time filers of PTSD.

    To complete this form, youll need to gather details about the specific combat event or events causing your PTSD:

    • The date of the event
    • The location of the event
    • The unit you were assigned to at the time of the event
    • Dates you were assigned to the unit
    • A description of what happened
    • Any medals or citations you received as a result of the event
    • Information about any service members who were killed or injured
    • Your remarks

    You can attach additional pages and include more information if you run out of space.

    Form 2: PTSD Disability Benefits Questionnaire

    DBQs are forms completed by your doctor. They provide medical evidence to the VA regarding your condition to help the VA make a disability compensation decision.

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    Our Basic Criteria For A Service Dog

    • Became disabled while serving our country .
    • Have a clinical diagnosis of PTSD, MST, TBI, or need for certain physical help.
    • Currently in treatment with a supportive provider.
    • Can attend our training camp in the Portland Metro, Oregon, and provide for your own transportation and accommodation during that time.
    • Can meet the physical, mental, and emotional needs of a dog.
    • Have been honorably discharged.

    Please note that PAVE does not place service dogs for legally blind, hearing impaired, or medical alert dogs . Please see ADI for organizations that specialize in these areas.

    How To Prevent Ptsd

    Traumatic experiences are a part of the job for military services members, just as they are for many first responders. However, that doesnt necessarily mean that PTSD has to be inevitable for some people. There are several ways that military service members can prepare for and respond to traumatic events that may help prevent PTSD. With more awareness about the risks of PTSD, people with high-risk jobs have more options to help safeguard against this disorder.

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    What Is Traumatic Brain Injury

    Traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain caused by an external force. The symptoms of the injury can vary. Mild or moderate TBI symptoms can include mood changes, trouble with concentration, headaches, difficulty with sleep, and reduced motor coordination. Severe TBI can cause greatly reduced or lack of motor control, greatly reduced ability or inability to speak, and restlessness or agitation.

    There are three main types of TBI that doctors consider:

    • Mild TBI that occurs when a person loses consciousness for 30 minutes or less
    • Moderate TBI a person loses consciousness for more than 30 minutes but wakes up within 24 hours
    • Severe if they remain unconscious for 24 hours or longer.
    • TBI does not always cause loss of consciousness. Someone with a mild TBI may not lose consciousness but they can experience confusion while awake.
    • TBI symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder can overlap. The effects of TBI may impact the way a person reacts to PTSD symptoms, therefore, treating the person with a comprehensive approach is best.
    • Even in the military, TBI is not always caused by explosions or blasts. Military training, physical exercise, or engaging in off-duty sports can expose servicemen and women to potential TBI.
    • All injuries are not the same and every TBI diagnosis must be treated differently. Two people can be involved in the same event but have different symptoms.

    How Is Ptsd Treated

    Service Dogs Bring Hope to Veterans Suffering from PTSD

    PTSD treatment usually involves medication, psychotherapy , or a combination of the two.3 Antidepressants are the most studied type of medication for treating PTSD symptoms. This includes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as sertraline and paroxetine and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors , such as fluoxetine and venlafaxine .5 They are commonly used to alleviate feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, and numbness. You may receive other medications to help with sleep problems, nightmares, or other hyperarousal symptoms.3

    Talk therapy can involve different approaches that have been found to be useful for PTSD. This includes trauma-focused therapies such as:5, 13

    • Cognitive Processing Therapy , which involves changing how you think about the trauma to help change the way you feel.
    • Prolonged Exposure , which involves talking about the trauma until you no longer feel upset about it.
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing , which works by helping you think about the trauma as you focus on the hand movements of the therapist. It helps your brain reprocess, or work through, the traumatic events.
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD , which includes elements of PE and CPT as well as other specific strategies to help you find helpful ways of dealing with feelings and behaviors related to the trauma.

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