The range of health issues facing America's veterans is both wide and ever-evolving. The American Legion recognizes this and provides valuable health-care information on a variety of conditions, as well as regularly updated information on the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Stress is a natural reaction to experiencing a traumatic of life-threatening event, not everyone copes with stressful situations in the same way. Usually, the stress is temporary and subsides as the traumatic event is reduced or eliminated. However, there are instances when a the traumatic event makes such a strong impression that those who experience it may have a more difficult time handling the stress and the memories of that event impact their ability to perform day to day functions, interact normally with family and friends, and maintain gainful employment. Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop, if stress reactions persist or worsen. With proper and timely treatment, PTS/PTSD can become chronic and permanent.
For Veterans, in particular, stressful traumatic events may include working in combat zones where the service member needs to remain in a state of constant vigilance for extended periods of time, participating in peacekeeping missions, training accidents, military sexual assault, and medical emergencies. It should be remembered that PTS/PTSD stressors can be Non Combat related for example Military Sexual Trauma (MST). These events may cause the survivor to react with intense fear, hopelessness and horror.
Help is available. Whether you were in the military many years ago, or of you are still in uniform, there are trained professionals who understand military trauma and PTS/PTSD treatment. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established more than 206 Vet Centers and Sexual Assault Treatment Programs nationwide. The Vet Centers, initially created for Vietnam Veterans, now offer services to Veterans from WWII, Korea, Panama, Lebanon, Grenada, Persian Gulf, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The Vet Centers offer group therapy, bereavement counseling, MST counseling, individual counseling, and marriage and family counseling. Many of the counselors have experienced combat themselves and have a personal understanding of the issues faced by combat veterans.
VA also has inpatient PTS/PTSD programs, residential treatment, and day hospital programs. In addition, VA has special programs for substance abuse, homeless veterans, and women's coordinators for female veterans. There are also many private clinicians or not-for-profit agencies that offer specialized treatment for PTS/PTSD similar to care provided by VA.