Veterans and Active Duty:
Many active duty military members and Veterans show signs of a mental health condition. There are some very important questions that military personnel often ask: what are the treatment options other than the VA, are there resources for family members and how to make the transition from military life to civilian life.
Mental Health Concerns:
There are three primary or common mental health concerns that military members may face (this list is not exclusive):
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is common when a traumatic event occurs, such as, several deployments, sexual assault and natural disasters. These events can have negative effects, such as, sleep, anger, sensitivity to sounds, nightmares, avoiding large crowds and/or places and can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher than civilians.
Depression is more than just intense sadness. Depression is a loss of interest in most activities that used to be enjoyable to an individual and impacts day to day functioning. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of depression to be five times higher than civilians.
Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI can happen in military combat and usually happens with a blow to the head or body causing intense mood swings, memory loss, tiredness and anger.
One last epidemic on the rise among Veterans and Active Duty personnel is suicide. In a 2014 study conducted by the Veterans Affairs approximately 22 Veterans die by suicide each day and 1 in 4 Active duty members die by suicide each day. Suicide is preventable if you know the signs and ask the questions. If you know a Veteran in crisis call the VA crisis line 800-273-8255 or the National Suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 or 911.
Who to tell:
Many active duty service members are concerned about how seeking treatment will impact their career; however, they owe it to themselves and their brothers and sisters in uniform to stay healthy: mentally, emotionally and physically. Depending on the situation and where active duty members go for treatment there are times that command will not have to know. Who to call:
- Military One Source is a confidential resource available to Veterans, Active Duty and their families as a great first stop. Military One Source can link service members to a licensed counselor.
- Primary Care Providers can be a resource to help link service members and their families to resources off base.
- Counselors in private sectors can help Veterans, active duty and their families receive the help that they need.
Evidence based treatments such as CBT and EMDR have been proven to help reduce symptoms for depression and PTSD.
And finally, the transition to Civilian Life:
For many returning to civilian life can be a time full of excitement, but it can also come with its own challenges. It can be a time of new friendships, new journeys and even moving one last time back home to be near family; however, it can be stressful due to what helped stay strong in the military may be not what is needed in Civilian life depending on what position was held in the military. Veteran’s may also miss the structure that military life had to offer and they may not feel understood by many Civilians in their lives. It is important to remember that transitioning can and will take time and it is ok to give yourself that time. Remember that we are here to help during the transition. Please reach out if needed.
About the Author: Shirley Nedock,