PTSD and Post 9/11 Veterans and Active Service Members
June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, a time to shine a light on an important topic affecting countless lives. Many of us know the September 11, 2001 attacks altered history and their impact on the United States persists today and that following 9/11, many Americans felt a deep sense of duty to serve in the military.
But many do not know how prevalent disorders such as PTSD are. Statistics reveal that post-9/11 veterans face significant challenges upon returning to civilian life, including mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety. Consequently, it is vital for them to have access to a military community and mental health resources.
The National Center for PTSD reports that approximately 11% to 20% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan experience PTSD, surpassing the general population rate of around 3%. Several factors contribute to the risk of PTSD in veterans, such as the severity of the traumatic event, combat duration, number of deployments, and personal characteristics like family history of mental illness or trauma.
PTSD Treatments Available
Supporting veterans and service members with PTSD involves various approaches. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) / Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) helps identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with PTSD. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) assists in processing traumatic memories and alleviating distress.
Medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be prescribed to manage symptoms. Group therapy with fellow combat veterans fosters a supportive environment for sharing experiences, coping strategies, and emotions. Additionally, alternative techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and art therapy show promise in reducing PTSD symptoms and enhancing overall well-being. It is important to recognize that the effectiveness of treatments varies, and consulting with a mental health professional is recommended to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
Importance of Military Communities like Yellow Ribbon Fund
Military communities like Yellow Ribbon Fund play a vital role in providing veterans with camaraderie and support. The unique bond formed among those who have served enables veterans and service members with PTSD to offer valuable insight and support to one another. Within these communities, individuals can openly discuss their trauma without fear of judgment, fostering healing, emotional connection, and a sense of belonging.
Overall, military communities like Yellow Ribbon Fund provide a crucial network of understanding, support, and resources that greatly impact the well-being and recovery of veterans and service members with PTSD.
Access to Mental Health
Access to mental health resources is essential for post-9/11 veterans, as the toll of combat and military service often affects their mental well-being. Counseling, therapy, and support groups are valuable resources that help veterans address mental health issues and enhance their quality of life. Unfortunately, many veterans encounter barriers to accessing mental health care, including long wait times, lack of insurance coverage, and stigma surrounding mental health (Int J Ment Health Syst., 2017).
Answering the Call
To address these challenges, Yellow Ribbon Fund has partnered with ROSE Health, powered by Precise technology, to offer 24/7 access to telehealth and MyAdvisor that offers a live mental health advisor through its concierge service to provide help when and where it is needed. This collaboration, which has already doubled the number of app users within a year, highlights the necessity of such accessible mental health services.
For veterans or service members struggling with PTSD, help is available. The Veterans Crisis Line is a dedicated 24/7 suicide hotline that provides immediate assistance, support, and referrals. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Additional resources can be found at NAMI (www.nami.org), the National Center for PTSD (www.ptsd.va.gov), and ADAA (www.adaa.org). Remember, you are not alone, and support is within reach.