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PTSD & TBI

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

OVERVIEW

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is one of the challenges that Veteran students may face. After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increase jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not happen until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. Among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, rates of mental health and neurological injuries are high and rising. Longer and more frequent deployments with close to 65% of soldiers who served in Iraq reporting combat experience predispose a significant number of servicemembers to combat related stress reactions (Hoge, Auchterloine, & Milliken, 2006). Recent estimates place the number at nearly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans screening positive for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008; Veterans Affairs, 2007) with 18 to 24 year old veterans being at greatest risk for developing PTSD (Seal, Bertethal, Milller, Saunak, & Marmar, 2007).

If you are in the military, you may have seen combat. You may have been on missions that exposed you to horrible and life-threatening experiences. You may have been shot at, seen a buddy shot, or seen death. These are types of events that can lead to PTSD. Another cause of PTSD in the military can be military sexual trauma (MST). This is any sexual harassment or sexual assault that occurs while you are in the military. MST can happen to both men and women and can occur during peacetime, training, or war.

If you think you have PTSD, it is important to seek professional help.

RESOURCES

Make the Connection

Make the Connection is a public awareness campaign by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that provides personal testimonials and resources to help Veterans discover ways to improve their lives. Many of our Nation’s Veterans—from those who served in World War II to those involved in current conflicts—return not only with physical wounds but also mental health issues they may not recognize.

The Make the Connection campaign encourages Veterans and their families to “make the connection”— with information and resources, with the strength and resilience of Veterans like themselves, with other people, and with available sources of support including mental health treatments. http://maketheconnection.net/conditions/ptsd

VA PTSD Program Locator

The program locator will help you find a local VA PTSD program. For more information see: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/ptsd_flsh.asp

National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD)

The mission of the National Center for PTSD is to advance the clinical care and social welfare of America’s Veterans through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and stress-related disorders. This is a great site for information to support campus counseling centers, clinicians, as well as service members, veterans and their families. For more information http://www.ptsd.va.gov/index.asp

National Center for PTSD Guides

  1. Returning from the War Zone: A Guide for Military Personnel http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/reintegration/guide-pdf/SMGuide.pdf
  2. Returning from the War Zone: A Guide for Families of Military Personnel http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/reintegration/returning-war-zone-guide-families.asp

Give an Hour

Provides free mental health services nationwide by mental health professionals who literally give an hour of their time each week to military personnel and their families. For more information see: http://www.giveanhour.org/

Vet Centers

The Vet Centers are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and there are community-based centers located in all fifty states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all veterans who served in any combat zone.  Bereavement counseling and counseling for military related sexual abuse or harassment is also available.  Family members and/or significant others can be seen at Vet Centers for military related issues.  There is no cost to the veteran or family for these services. For more information on Vet Centers: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has founded a national suicide prevention hotline to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. To operate the Veterans Hotline, the VA partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans can call the Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and press “1″ to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.

 

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)

OVERVIEW

Many servicemembers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq are dealing with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), which has become one of the signature wounds of these recent combat experiences. Improved battlefield medical intervention has increased the survival rate of service members who are injured during combat (Sokolow & Lewis, 2008), and estimates of the number who have experienced a probable TBI is 320,000 (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008). According to a RAND Corporation study, approximately 19 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans surveyed report a probable TBI during their deployment.

TBI is known to encompass physical, cognitive, behavioral and psychological symptoms, and the resulting challenges in a mild diagnosis may include lack of concentration, increased distractibility, difficulty reading, and inability to solve problems (Patterson & Staton, 2009). For servicemembers exposed to multiple blasts, TBIs can accumulate which can lead to serious neurological problems.  These problems aren’t always immediately apparent after the injury and sometimes emerge at a later date.

RESOURCES

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is a resource that assists any servicemember or veteran covered by TRICARE (active-duty) or VA benefits.  Referrals for screening and treatment are accepted by family members, primary physicians, or health care providers and the process has been adapted to permit initial contact online or by phone.

A major focus of the DVBIC clinical research program is to evaluate the quality, timeliness, and cost-effectiveness of treatment delivered to military personnel and veterans.  For more information:  http://www.dvbic.org 1-800-870-9244 

Traumatic Brain Injury, Quick Guide: http://www.mirecc.va.gov/docs/visn6/TBI-handout-providers.pdf

Traumatic Brain Injury, Quick Guide (Patient/Family): http://www.mirecc.va.gov/docs/visn6/TBI-brochure-vet-family.pdf

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Education Sheet: http://www.pdhealth.mil/downloads/TBI_FactSheet.pdf

TBI & PTSD Quick Facts: http://www.mhs.osd.mil/content/docs/press/quick_white.pdf

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