In a recent article on PsychCentral.com, it was revealed that current research indicates that approximately 40 percent of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from mental and behavioral health issues upon returning home.
While the news has been filled in recent years with the struggles that veterans face when trying to reintegrate into civilian life, many civilians have little understanding of the difficulty of the task. The most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders among veterans are post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, alcohol abuse and anxiety. Additionally, recently returned soldiers have high rates of suicide and spousal abuse and domestic violence.
Similar to illnesses like mesothelioma (sometimes referred to as asbestos cancer) or other illnesses that are the result of being exposed to toxic substances, mental and emotional trauma can result in long term negative health effects for years after the traumatic event. As a result, many mental health concerns are not easily treated and often, veterans do not immediately seek help. This can make it even more difficult for veterans to get a correct and appropriate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Improved Treatment Options
While many soldiers still are of the mind set that seeking help for mental health issues is to be avoided, there has been a greater effort in recent years to encourage veterans to ask for help. Local veterans health clinics now frequently have psychiatric and counseling staff available. Additionally, group counseling is available in which soldiers can talk to one another about their daily struggles and what events happened to trigger those struggles. For many veterans, talking to others who have walked the line and put their lives at risk for their county can be comforting and help manage symptoms.
In addition to traditional talk therapy and medications, the VA has now embraced another type of therapy, which is EMDR (eye movement desensitization training). This is a very effective treatment for PTSD and trauma. It provides relief for symptoms when other therapy methods have been unsuccessful.
Today’s soldiers are faced with many health issues and can seek treatment through the Veterans Administration. If you are a soldier and are having difficulty adjusting to civilian life, be assured that help is available to transition and help you with coping skills that will provide you with relief. If you are not currently enrolled in the VA health care system, contact your local benefits administrator and gain access to the benefits to which you are entitled, including health care.