Veterans have finally come home after nine long, hard-fought years in Iraq. Celebrations of their return, tearful family reunions and parties in their honor have all come to a close, but now is the time they need us more than ever.
Post-traumatic stress disorder has already begun to set in on the veteran, allowing haunting memories and dreams to leave scars you may never see. It’s no secret that PTSD is a major issue surrounding veterans today. The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported treating more than 212,000 combat veterans for PTSD since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.
Though the number of Iraq-era veterans treated for PTSD is only a fraction of those from the Vietnam era, their experiences are different based on a number of factors, including a rise in the use of improvised explosive devices (IED).
Often, those with PTSD or brain injuries suffer silently. Veterans avoid counseling because they have difficulties in admitting a mental disorder. Troops who are taught to be fearless might feel that they are viewed as weak if they admit to any health problems, especially one so closely related to emotions. This stigma is one we, as a national community, can help them overcome.
Without proper treatment their relationships can deteriorate, educational opportunities get pushed aside and everyday life becomes a struggle. Drugs or alcohol are often used to fill the emptiness that a veteran suffering from PTSD may hold inside, which can lead to them losing their family, job and even their life.
It is our job as veterans, friends and family members to help combat this terrible affliction. I challenge you to learn as much as you can about PTSD, because knowing how PTSD affects people may help you understand what your friend or family member is going through. There are many programs out there to help veterans, so don’t let these resources go to waste.
Here are some ways you can help a veteran if you think they might suffer from PTSD: