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VA Helps Veterans Battle PTSD

PRESS RELEASE

June 7, 2022

Muskogee , OK — Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month occurs each June, and while VA works to provide information, support, and advocacy for Veterans with PTSD year-round, this month is a good opportunity to come together to discuss a problem that effects the lives of so many Americans.

The recent events in Oklahoma and around the nation serve as a harsh reminder of the importance of mental health awareness and advocacy.

With mass violence happening in the United States at an alarming rate, it is important to acknowledge the psychological impact this can have on individuals and communities. Individuals with direct exposure to these events will likely have a variety of emotional reactions that could last days, months, or even years. Some may go on to develop chronic symptoms of PTSD.

For most, the news each day can be troublesome, however, individuals who have previously experienced trauma, including many of our nation’s Veterans, may experience a disrupted sense of safety and heightened distress upon learning of these events.

While anyone at any age can develop PTSD, there are multiple factors that can increase the chance. Many develop PTSD after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as mass violence, combat, natural disaster, car accident, or sexual assault. After experiencing such an event, it is normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping, but it may be PTSD if those symptoms last more than a few months. It is important to remember that while PTSD is often associated with traumatic experiences, it is not the only consequence. For some, the impact may resemble depression or difficulty managing anger.

For Veterans, mass violence in the United States may lead to re-experiencing uncontrollable events from their military service.

“Many people join the military because they have a strong sense of justice and want to protect others, so learning of these tragic events can trigger a sense of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt and anger,” said Jeremy Nikel, who is a Navy Veteran and Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System.  “It may also bring back memories of events from the past that we were helpless to prevent.”

There are a lot of stigmas associated with PTSD and mental health treatment in general and it is important that Veterans understand their options and make informed decisions about their treatment with someone they trust. VA is proud of the fact they use treatments based in science that have shown success to train all their clinicians.

While PTSD is not unique to Veterans, military service can be plagued with many stressors that can have a lasting impact. Survivors of traumatic events often try to ignore their symptoms, so not to appear weak to others. They may feel isolated and alone, not believing that others could understand their fears. Survivors may also believe that they cannot be helped, but there are treatments available that work to reduce this impact and increase quality of life.

The VA has a great team of PTSD clinicians ready to help Veterans with a variety of individual and group therapies. VA teaches strategies that help Veterans take back their life by helping them gain a better understanding of their symptoms and approach traumatic memories in a way that fosters healing. Seeking treatment can be hard and learning about the options available is an important first step. If you are wondering about PTSD or the treatments available, you can visit the National Center for PTSD website at www.ptsd.va.gov  to learn more or talk to your healthcare provider about scheduling a consultation. VA hopes that PTSD Awareness Month opens the door to these conversations for those continuing to struggle.

If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD, get help. Seek a professional. There is hope. For more information for Veterans, please call 888-397-8387. Someone is waiting to hear from you. 

For Additional Support and Resources: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/awareness/get_support.asp

What to Expect in the Wake of Mass Violence - PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)

Help for Survivors in the Aftermath of Disasters and Mass Violence - PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)

PTSD Screening Day - PTSD: National Center for PTSD (va.gov)

Media contacts

Nita McClellan, Communications director

918-577-3704

benita.mcclellan@va.gov

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