This is the last in a four-part series about Afghanistan Veterans and how they can get help through VA. Read the other parts:
Part 1: Afghanistan: How Veterans can reconcile service
Part 2: Afghanistan: How Veterans can learn from Vietnam Veterans
Part 3: Afghanistan: How spouses, caregivers can support Veterans
The last part of this series focuses on resources available for PTSD. While this series focused on Afghanistan Veterans, options apply to all Veterans.
There are several effective options to treat PTSD. According to Dr. Sonya Norman, director of the National Center for PTSD Consultation Program, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Choosing a treatment from the options that we know work well should take into account your doctor’s recommendations and your preferences. Knowing the different options allows a Veteran to choose a treatment that is the best fit for them.
Active duty and Veterans should not be ashamed of getting the help they need, said Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón “CZ” Colón-López. An Afghanistan Veteran himself who battled PTSD, Colón-López said seeking mental health help should be routine.
“We don’t think twice about putting weapon systems in maintenance because we need them,” Colón-López said. “We run quality control checks on everything. But the one decisive advantage we have as a U.S. military is the human weapon system. This is no different, so we need to make sure we take care of everything that we can right now as we draw down in Afghanistan. This is our depot maintenance period.”
PTSD Decision Aid
One of the easiest methods Veterans can use to find options is the PTSD Decision Aid at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/decisionaid/. Veterans can read about the treatments that work or watch videos explaining how they work. Veterans can build a chart to compare treatments and get a personalized summary.
PTSD Program Locator
VA medical centers use a recovery-based model to treat PTSD, Norman said.
Veterans with PTSD can get treatment at nearly 200 specialized programs throughout the country. Veterans can get PTSD treatment at any VA medical center and at some large Community Based Outpatient Clinics. This locator is at https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/PTSD.asp.
Each PTSD program offers education, evaluation and treatment. Program services include:
- One-to-one mental health assessment
- Groups for Veterans of specific conflicts or who experienced specific traumas; groups targeting specific concerns, like anger or stress management
Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers. They provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling. Eligible Veterans, service members – including National Guard and Reserve components – and their families can use the services.
Vet Center staff offers readjustment counseling to make a successful transition from military to civilian life or after a traumatic event experienced in the military. Staff offer individual, group, marriage and family counseling in addition to referral and connection to other VA or community benefits and services.
Call the Vet Center Call Center confidentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 877-927-8387. Vet Center locations are at https://www.va.gov/find-locations/?facilityType=vet_center.
In these videos, Veterans, family members and clinicians share their experiences with PTSD and PTSD treatment. Watch the videos at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/aboutface/.
Veterans can use a variety of apps available through VA for help with PTSD.
The PTSD Coach app can help Veterans learn about and manage symptoms that often occur after trauma. The app, available at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/ptsdcoach_app.asp, has features that include:
- Reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work
- Tools for screening and tracking symptoms
- Convenient, easy-to-use tools to help handle stress symptoms
- Direct links to support and help
- Available 24/7
Self-help apps include:
Mindfulness Coach, helping to practice mindfulness meditation, is at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/mindfulcoach_app.asp.
AIMS for Anger Management is at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/aims_app.asp.
PTSD Family Coach is at https://mobile.va.gov/app/ptsd-family-coach.
VetChange helps users with PTSD build skills to reduce problem drinking. It’s at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/VetChange_app.asp.
There’s a host of other resources available at https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/category/vets-experience/vetresources/.
#VetResources is a weekly newsletter of VA and non-VA resources sent every Wednesday night to Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. #VetResources focuses on tangible resources that VA’s customers can use immediately or for keeping aware of important updates. Email sign up is at https://www.va.gov/vetresources/.