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Healing Invisible Wounds: Orlando VA Healthcare System's Revolutionary PTSD Services

Dr. Laura Meyers and Army Veteran Adriana Taylor discuss PTSD treatment options.
OVAHCS Clinical Psychologist, Laura Meyers works with Army Veteran, Adriana Taylor during a telehealth session. Taylor credits the OVAHCS PTSD program for pointing her in the right direction towards recovery.

In a world where physical wounds are often visible and readily addressed, the invisible scars left by trauma can haunt the lives of those affected, often going unnoticed by society.

However, within the hallowed halls of the Orlando VA Healthcare System (OVAHCS), a groundbreaking approach to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) services is changing the narrative, providing a beacon of hope for Veterans and their families.

The OVAHCS PTSD team provides intensive, evidence-based, virtual care options, as well as specialized treatment for highest-risk Veterans. This specialized programming combines trauma therapy with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to help Veterans, learn skills to manage suicidality, emotions, stress, and relationships in order to also be able to confront trauma.

The OVAHCS is the only VA in the Nation providing this groundbreaking DBTPE treatment in an intensive format. This program is also open to all of VISN 8 (Florida, South Georgia, and Puerto Rico).

“One of the program's core pillars is its emphasis on early intervention and comprehensive assessments,” said Clinical Psychologist Laura Meyers. “Every Veteran who seeks help is given a thorough evaluation, ensuring that their individual needs and experiences are properly understood.”

This process allows the team to tailor a treatment plan that integrates evidence-based therapies, medication management, and alternative therapies, such as art and music therapy, yoga, and mindfulness techniques.

OVAHCS’s holistic approach extends beyond the traditional boundaries of therapy rooms. Recognizing that PTSD affects not only the individuals but also their families, the program offers comprehensive support systems for loved ones. Monthly support groups, counseling sessions, and educational workshops create a nurturing environment where families can heal together, fostering resilience and understanding.

A groundbreaking aspect of the program is its commitment to harnessing the power of technology. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by Veterans in accessing care, especially those in remote or underserved areas, the program has pioneered the use of telemedicine. Through secure video conferencing, Veterans can connect with their therapists and participate in group therapy sessions, eliminating barriers to care and empowering individuals to seek help when and where they need it most.

Moreover, the OVAHCS’s dedication to research and innovation ensures that their practices stay at the forefront of advancements in PTSD treatment. Collaborating with local universities and other healthcare institutions, the program actively participates in clinical trials and studies to explore emerging therapies and improve existing ones. This commitment to research not only enhances the care provided to Veterans within the OVAHCS but also contributes to the wider body of knowledge on PTSD treatment.

The impact of the OVAHCS PTSD program cannot be understated. Countless Veterans have found solace, support, and healing through their services, reclaiming their lives from the clutches of trauma. The stories of resilience and recovery are testaments to the program's effectiveness, echoing throughout the halls of the Orlando VA as a source of inspiration for staff and patients alike.

“As we continue to strive for a world that understands and addresses the invisible wounds of war, the Orlando VA Healthcare System stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through dedication, innovation, and compassion,” said Dr. Kara Boyer, OVAHCS Deputy Chief of Mental Health. “By providing comprehensive and personalized PTSD services, we are not just healing individuals but reshaping the very fabric of Veteran’s health care.”

OVAHCS Director, Mr. Timothy J. Cooke emphasizes that, “We don’t want anyone who selflessly served our country to suffer in silence. It is our hope that Veterans utilize our resources and make OVAHCS their sanctuary of hope for healing.