MAY 25, 2023 – As a combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, I have personally witnessed the devastating impact that trauma can have on individuals and their loved ones. From physical injuries to emotional distress, the effects of combat can leave lasting scars on veterans, leading to mental health issues like PTSD, mTBI, and Moral Injury, resulting in depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness. While avoiding mental health escalations is a critical focus, it is equally important to emphasize the proactive measures being taken to help veterans process trauma.
To address mental health escalations effectively, a multifaceted approach is required, encompassing early intervention, building resilience, and fostering a supportive community for our veterans and active military personnel. Here’s 3 measures to take:
- Identifying Warning Signs and Seeking Help: The first part in preventing mental health escalations is recognizing the warning signs and encouraging individuals to seek help. Changes in mood or behavior, social withdrawal, increased substance use, and expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness are indicators that immediate support is needed. Veterans and their families can reach out for assistance through resources like the Veterans Crisis Line, available 24/7 by dialing 988, ensuring that help is just a phone call away.
- Building Resilience and Coping Skills: The second part is promoting resilience and equipping individuals with effective coping skills is paramount in preventing mental health escalations. This phase involves various components:
- Support Groups and Professional Counseling: Participating in support groups and seeking professional counseling or attending clinics provides individuals with a safe space to share their experiences and receive guidance from trained professionals.
- Self-Care Activities: Engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, hiking, and recreation, plays a crucial role in maintaining mental well-being. These activities help individuals find healthy outlets for stress and promote overall emotional resilience.
- Social Connections: Building and maintaining strong social connections, whether through family, friends, or veteran organizations, is essential. These connections offer a support system and a sense of belonging, helping to combat feelings of isolation and fostering a sense of community.
- Embracing Faith in Processing Trauma: The third part is that Faith is a powerful tool in coping with trauma and promoting healing among veterans. Studies conducted by renowned institutions such as Duke University Medical Center and Luther University have shown that higher levels of spirituality are associated with better mental health outcomes. Faith-based organizations provide a supportive community where individuals can find solace, forgiveness, purpose, and resilience.
SOF Missions: Providing Comprehensive Support
A strong connection with my fellow combat veterans was the biggest thing I was lacking in my personal journey. For any combat veterans looking for a 5-day clinic that provides all of these things at no cost to you please apply at www.sofmissions.com (everything included flight, hotel, food & care)
The three domains in Processing Trauma that I work with veterans on through my foundation, The Guide Soldier Foundation, and as the west coast ambassador for SOF Missions www.sofmissions.com are:
- Psychological Domain: PTSD – Providing therapeutic interventions and counseling.
- Cognitive Domain: mTBI – Providing educational resources, specialized therapies, and access to medical professionals.
- Spiritual Domain: Moral Injury – Providing programs that help individuals find healing and restoration through faith-based approaches.
As a pastor and combat veteran, I believe that it is essential to approach these issues with compassion, understanding, and a willingness to seek help when needed. By recognizing the warning signs of suicide, promoting resilience, coping skills, embracing faith to fully engage in processing trauma, we can work together to prevent mental health escalations and promote healing for ourselves and our fellow veterans.
Greg Munck is a combat-promoted Marine who served his country in the Gulf War. Greg is the author of the book The Guide: Survival, Warfighting, Peacemaking just released on May 9th, 2023. He is currently the lead pastor and co-founder of Crossline Community Church in Laguna Hills, California, and travels speaking for The Guide Soldier Foundation and SOF Missions, which serves active and veteran military personnel worldwide. He has been married to his wife, Kymbry, since 1992, and together they have five children who you may have seen in TV and film.