Whether in times of war or peace, serving in the military is an overwhelmingly consuming experience. The daily vigorous and drilling challenges, the restless nights, and most of all, the traumas experienced by soldiers and veterans can certainly take a toll on them. Going home, they carry feelings of denial, confusion, disillusionment, hopelessness, nightmares, flashbacks, and even numbness, where every bottled-up emotion leads to one obvious infliction: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is no denying that the time spent in service might have been fraught with unconceivable dark memories. Yet, there is always a way to survive that. This article will explore 6 ways to help veterans and soldiers cope with PTSD.
Raising awareness of post-military service PTSD
Underestimating the gravity of the situation and the lack of understanding of such a disorder is the main barrier that hinders the rehabilitation and treatment of soldiers suffering from PTSD. Making an effort to understand what they experienced on the other side can help them open up to you, which, in turn, can make them feel heard and supported. Since PTSD does not only distress veterans who witnessed military action or combat or in their time of service, being educated over the matter is a must for everyone involved. Undoubtedly, veterans can struggle with trauma for an extended period that can last for numerous months or even years after finishing their service.
Recognising the causes and symptoms
Acknowledging the problem is the key to solving it. The causes of post-military service PTSD can be attributed to many factors, such as witnessing violent casualties, abduction, terrorist attacks, critical road kills, and accidents. Partaking in military combat and experiencing abuse can lead to such a disorder. Besides, some veterans have the misfortune of being victims of military medical malpractice, which leaves them with serious physical and emotional scars. It is important for each veteran who suffered at the hands of such incompetence to report it and seek professional legal help to support their claim.
When it comes to the symptoms, survivor’s guilt, compulsive and self-destructive behaviours, and mistrust come at the forefront. There is also the difficulty of readjusting to normal life, emotional detachment, and apathy. Individuals suffering from PTSD should certainly be treated with care.
Joining a support group
Despite the wide thoughtfulness and understanding of PTSD and its effects on veterans, it can still be tough interacting with former members of service regarding their psychological health. This is where support groups come into play. Through gathering veterans in a safe community with similar experiences, they can find true validation and begin the first steps of recovery. As the emotional support given during those sessions strengthen their self-confidence and make them feel less lonely. This can certainly bridge the gap between their medical, emotional, and mental needs.
Seeking professional help
There is nothing wrong with asking for professional help as long as the person himself desires so. Encouraging veterans who have heavily suffered during their service can be more difficult than anticipated. The unspoken, horrendous experiences and buried emotions may pose as significant hindrances for such a task. Hence, there is always the option for family or friends to go through the process with you. That way, the person can feel more at ease, heard, and acknowledged. Professional help can be found anywhere as VA services and facilities are numerous and specialize in all veteran-related matters.
Acknowledging other treatment options
Besides support groups, there are medications, which work wonders with the right, verified prescriptions. There are also other therapy types, on top of which is the cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT that targets the malicious impacts of the military service traumatic experiences, such as substance abuse and aggressive behaviours. Besides, you can opt for the self-help approaches that vouch for further treatments that can entail joining 12-step meetings and utilizing apps recommended by treatment providers for instance.
Finding ways to become more adjusted
All veterans, especially the ones who served for a long period, find it trying to readjust to their old, civilian life. From obeying stringent rules to regaining control over their actions, this can certainly be disorienting for many former soldiers. But the good news is there is a doable approach to cope with the new situation. Through being physically active whether taking up sports or finding a useful hobby, a veteran can find escapism and release the negative energy within. This can also provide motivation, find inner strength, and renew life goals. It takes time, patience, and determination to achieve such a hard mission.
Not all pain is physical; some wounds are deeper than the eye can see. PTSD is the most common and the most unfortunate side effect of long, intense military service. On one hand, experiencing trauma on a regular basis takes a lot out of veterans. But on the other hand, there is always a chance for them to cope and readjust to their old lives. With the previous guide, you can gain a deeper understanding of this disorder and hopefully help others who are suffering around you.
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James Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.