Veterans are the backbone of America to some people. To others, they are simply people who put their lives on the line in service to our country but do not spend much time thinking about how that service affects their lives today.
The country does not always think about mental health concerns of veterans day-to-day unless they know someone affected. It used to be they knew a grandparent impacted or experienced that first hand.
Some have had spouses and loved ones impacted recently, but not as many people think how to turn mental health issues into positive, healthy aspects. To honor veterans, it helps to understand the unique challenges they face back home after war and combat.
They decide to go in, though some were enlisted back in the day, and from that service, they share experiences together. Once they leave service for civilian life, the story does not end.
They are left to cope with mental health and often physical health challenges that need support. Find out how to support them in a healthy way and offer some compassion.
PTSD is Common
When someone serves in the military, they are likely going to see friends in combat, disaster zones, and large scale catastrophes. They might engage in combat, themselves, which puts them at risk of being in military combat experience.
The things they see and experience never leave them. They are left to deal with the repercussions because of mental health complications from PTSD.
Substance abuse is rife for people with symptoms of PTSD. The rate of PTSD is up to 15 times higher among veterans than others and it takes lots of support to help them.
Things each day in the environment trigger them like backfiring pipes on cars, fireworks, and scenes that make them feel like they are back in combat again. Everyday events are triggering and loud noises can trigger symptoms of PTSD in veterans.
Advanced knowledge of fireworks can help them prepare for events like the Fourth of July or it might make them feel less prepared and distracted by the noises.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injury can happen when blasts from explosive devices hit them and they suffer a brain injury. Not uncommon in the real world, they are more common for survivors of war from post 9/11 combat missions, particularly with multiple tours of duty under their belt.
Combat operations were related around military combat zones where they used heavy artillery fire. These injures are often caused by these missions and it is hard to overcome symptoms of headaches, confusion, aggression, lethargy, and memory problems.
A TBI may not be noticeable at first. Ask someone how they are doing and what they might need help with.
Volunteer to work with people who have TBI and assist them. Work with training organizations that support service animals and take them into places where veterans with TBI live. This will help them feel more relaxed and at peace.
Veterans with depression may find it hard to go out and do things they love. Depression is a common mental health condition.
Symptoms of sadness, irritable mood, lack of interest, and thoughts of death are not uncommon. Among veterans who seek treatment, a small portion of them had a major depressive disorder, but with significant enough symptoms to have trouble coping with day to day living.
For veterans living with severe depressive symptoms, it helps to offer resources like psychiatrists, psychologists, and treatment programs if they need substance abuse counseling or treatment. Getting them immediate help might save their life.
One thing veterans struggle with when they come back from combat is anxiety disorders. These can range from feeling anxious to stressed to not being able to leave the house due to high anxiety.
A tense situation, handling new spaces, and staying focused on tasks is hard. When anxiety is most intense, it doesn’t fit a situation, or lasts a long time, it can impact their work and relationships.
Anxiety manifests as panic attacks or a sense of unease. To help someone in crisis, offer a listening ear of support.
Find tangible ways to get involved with veterans organizations and offer support. They deserve support and connection to keep them feeling safe and validated.
Help Them Locate Hope
Veterans who wrestle with addiction and substance abuse issues are likely to deal with a lack of hope and feeling lost in the shuffle. They are not able to do things they want to do nor can they do them as well as they once were able to do them.
With limitations, they may lose confidence, self-esteem, and a desire to get up and do things each day. The difficult experience of dealing with addiction to substances may occur so they can cope with the anxiety, depression, and other issues.
When this occurs, dual diagnosis treatment is the key to helping them get back on board with healing again.
There is no timeline for healing from these issues. Most cases of PTSD are going to be a challenge for a lifetime, especially when addiction enters the picture. With the right support, treatment, and professionals offering help, they can begin the process of healing and feel they have loved ones behind them.
Forge is a place to come and recover your life from addiction. We help you reimagine what is possible and create the life you’ve been dreaming of.
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