PTSD: An Invisible Wound of War
Not only do veterans have to spend months at work in an environment that requires a heightened sense of danger and risk away from the comforts of home, family, and friends, but then they return home to family members who have changed, grown, developed new interests and habits while they were gone. The stress of this environmental shift alone is enough to cause additional stress, anxiety, or depression, but for those who have returned with symptoms of PTSD, this can be magnified.
Currently, there are 379,772 veterans in Massachusetts. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War veterans, and 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan struggle with PTSD. To help build awareness and encourage treatment, June has been designated as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD.
PTSD is not a form of weakness, but is the result of changes in how someone’s brain responds to their environment after being exposed to a traumatic event. The condition is a diagnosable mental illness. Each individual exposed to a trauma has their own set of risk factors for potentially developing PTSD, some of which are genetics, past history of traumas, and the degree or duration of exposure to traumatic events.
While PTSD does have a higher incidence among military service members, it can affect anyone. If you are haunted by a past traumatic event, having difficulty sleeping, suffering from flashbacks, or struggling with other PTSD symptoms, help is available. Take an anonymous mental health screening at MassMen.org to learn more about your symptoms and to find quality treatment options in Massachusetts.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, do not hesitate to seek professional help. PTSD can be successfully treated. The following are some Massachusetts-based resources that are available:
- The American Legion: The American Legion department service officers help veterans receive VA benefits they earned through service to their country. The Legion conducts, promotes and supports career fairs for veterans and transitioning service members, bringing employers face to face with job hunters. Legion staff lobbies Congress for better quality of life for U.S. military personnel. They have a number of local posts throughout Massachusetts.
- The McLean LEADER Program: The LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder) Program at McLean Hospital provides specialized mental health and addiction services, designed specifically for men and women in uniform. Programs are available for inpatient, residential, partial hospital and outpatient programs.
- The Trauma Center: The Trauma Center provides services to traumatized children and adults and their families at the main office in Brookline. They also have a resource guide for families and first responders.