The beginning of June marks the start of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. Understanding this anxiety disorder and how it disproportionately affects Veterans who served is a critical part of connecting people in need with adequate resources. As you learn more about PTSD, you can gain helpful information on resources you can provide as you raise awareness in your community.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is an anxiety disorder in which a person struggles with recovery after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. While not all people living with this condition are Veterans, they have a much higher risk of developing PTSD than civilians. Unfortunately, people who have lent military service are often exposed to specific traumatic events related to combat zone deployment, training accidents, and even military sexual trauma (MST). This makes readjusting to civilian life an often challenging and lengthy process.
Common Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD often manifest in the form of sleep problems, anger, recurrent dreams, irritability, relationship disturbances, vivid flashbacks, physical sensations, and isolation. These symptoms are often grouped into four types: adverse changes in thinking and mood, changes in physical and emotional reactions, intrusive memories, and avoidance. Symptoms greatly vary from person to person—while some people recover from PTSD within a few months, many others take years to recover. Additionally, for some, PTSD may begin years after the event has occurred.
The Origins of PTSD Awareness Month
The history of PTSD Awareness Month can be traced back to the efforts of various organizations and individuals who recognized the need to address the unique challenges faced by those struggling with PTSD, particularly Veterans.
In 2010, the United States Senate, in accordance with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), designated June as PTSD Awareness Month. This decision was influenced by the growing recognition of PTSD among military personnel returning from combat deployments and aimed to provide a platform to increase public knowledge about PTSD and the experiences of those affected by it. The intention was not only to honor the sacrifices made by Veteran but also to foster a greater understanding of the psychological toll of traumatic events on individuals from all walks of life.
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For Veterans who have bravely served their countries, the journey toward healing from PTSD can be challenging. However, numerous outpatient programs and initiatives are available to support them through their recovery. Some of the following programs and initiatives include:
The Veterans Crisis Line
One notable initiative is the Crisis Line, which offers immediate help to Veterans in crisis. The Veterans Crisis Line operates 24/7, providing confidential support and connecting Veterans to qualified professionals who can offer guidance and assistance. It is a vital resource for those experiencing emotional distress, providing a lifeline during critical moments.
If you are a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, dial 988 then Press 1, use the live chat feature, or text 838255.
The Department of Veterans Affairs
Another vital source of support is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA offers a wide range of services for Veterans with PTSD, including specialized counseling and therapy programs. These programs are designed to address the unique needs of Veterans, providing evidence-based treatments and resources to help them manage and overcome the challenges associated with PTSD. The VA’s commitment to supporting Veterans’ mental health is a testament to the importance placed on their well-being.
Additionally, the support provided by trained service dogs, particularly through initiatives like the Support for Warriors program, has shown remarkable results in assisting Veterans with PTSD. These highly trained canines offer emotional support, companionship, and a sense of security, helping Veterans manage their symptoms and navigate their daily lives more effectively. The unconditional love and non-judgmental nature of these animals have proven to be invaluable in the healing process.
What You Can Do to Help Raise PTSD Awareness
Too many people believe there’s little they can do to help family members or service members they may know who are dealing with PTSD. While national initiatives like the above resources are wonderful, here are some everyday actions you can take during PTSD Awareness Month to make a difference:
Educate Yourself – Take the time to understand what PTSD is, its symptoms, and the challenges those living with it face. By becoming informed, you can help dispel misconceptions and offer accurate information to others.
Spread the Word – Use your voice and social media platforms to share articles, personal stories, and resources about PTSD. By raising awareness online, you can reach a broad audience and encourage conversations about the importance of mental health.
Support Veteran Organizations – Donate to and volunteer with organizations that provide programs and services for Veterans with PTSD. Many of these organizations rely on public support to continue their valuable work and make a significant impact on the lives of Veterans.
Be a Compassionate Listener – If you know someone who may be struggling with PTSD, lend a sympathetic ear. Listening without judgment and offering support can make a tremendous difference in someone’s journey toward healing.
Advocate for Mental Health Services – Reach out to local representatives and policymakers to advocate for improved mental health services and resources for Veterans. By highlighting the importance of accessible and quality care, you can contribute to a safer space for people living with PTSD everywhere.
Let AVCC Help Connect Your Loved One With Needed Care
With American Veterans Care Connection, we connect Veterans and their family members with trustworthy home care services that provide the resources they deserve. We work hard to understand the Veteran’s perspective, and even in situations where your loved one may have fears around receiving home care services, we can help ease their fears.