Military members are sent to war leaving behind family, communities, and their lifestyle in order to fight a war. Upon their return they are thrown back into their "old lives" and are expected to adapt quickly and be unchanged (Cooter, 2004). Even though some veterans can readapt into the communities and become a productive member of society some veterans end up with psychological issues as a result of their exposure to the hardships of leaving a family, friends, and their life behind, and the traumatic events that they experience during war. War affects a lot of individuals and can cause mental illness, co-occurring disorders, substance abuse and/or alcohol (Weine, 2001).
In 2009, there were over twenty million military veterans in the U.S. (Lewis, 2011). Many of these veterans suffer from what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Post-traumatic stress disorder, 2011). This is a mental health condition that's set off by a terrifying event. Symptoms often include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as out of control thoughts about the event (Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 2011). "More than 230,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans sought treatment for the first time at VA healthcare facilities nationwide between 2002 and 2008. More than 20% of these veterans, almost 50,000, received a new PTSD diagnosis" (Many Veterans Not Getting Enough Treatment for PTSD, 2011).
Symptoms of PTSD can be terrorizing. They often upset ones life and make it hard to carry on with daily activities. It is often hard for a lot of people to just get through the day. PTSD symptoms typically start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not take place until months or years later. They also may come and go throughout the years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause immense distress, or hinder work or home life, then one is probably suffering from PTSD. There are four types of PTSD symptoms:
Reliving the event which is also known as re-experiencing symptoms. Bad memories of the traumatic even can reappear at any time. One may feel the same fear and horror they did when the event took place. One might have nightmares. They may even feel like they are going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger like a sound or sight that causes one to relive an event.
Avoiding situations that remind one of the event. One may try to stay away from situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. One may even stay away from talking or thinking about the event.
Feeling numb. One may find it hard to articulate their feeling. This is another way to avoid memories. They may not have affirmative or loving feelings toward other people or may stay away from relationships. They may not be interested in activities that they used to like. They may not be able to remember parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
Feeling keyed up which is also known as hyper arousal. One might be jittery, or always alert and on the watch for danger. It can cause one to unexpectedly become angry or irritable, have a hard time sleeping, and have trouble concentrating, fear for their safety and always feel on guard and be very worried when something surprises them (Many Veterans Not Getting Enough Treatment for PTSD, (2011).
Other common problems that people with PTSD may also have include:
Drinking or drug problems
Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
Relationships problems including divorce and violence
Physical symptoms (Many Veterans Not Getting Enough Treatment for PTSD, (2011).
Veterans are having difficulty adapting upon their return because there are not sufficient programs in order to help them deal with PTSD (PTSD Breakdown: We're Failing the American Military Family, 2011). Today's society is beginning to recognize the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among war veterans. That issue is not only PTSD but also the effects on military spouses and families. Secondhand PTSD is widespread, but unfortunately, not commonly known. War veterans should not be blamed for the issues that they suffer upon their return. The blame lies in the lack of facilities aimed to help veterans and families combat PTSD and transition into civilian life. War is a harrowing experience, and it's no surprise that it continues to plague veterans (Eaton, 2011).
Social issues can directly or indirectly affect an entire society, communities or just an individual person. It is through education and effective preventive programs that societies, veterans, and family members can be educated and provided the proper support that they need. In my opinion they should be receiving help prior to their departure and upon their return. Not only do veterans need treatment but families should be getting pre-counseling to ensure that they know what to do before the veteran leaves and when they return. Setting up groups that support veterans and their families before they leave and when they return is one way to make changes.
Untreated PTSD can have overwhelming, extensive consequences for sufferers' functioning and relationships, their families, and for society. People who suffer from this illness are at risk of having more medical troubles, as well as problems reproducing. Emotionally, PTSD sufferers may struggle more to attain as good an outcome from mental-health treatment as that of people with other emotional troubles. Economically, PTSD can have important consequences as well. "As of 2005, more than 200,000 veterans were receiving disability compensation for this illness, for a cost of $4.3 billion. This represents an 80% increase in the number of military people receiving disability benefits for PTSD and an increase of 149% in the amount of disability benefits paid compared to those numbers five years earlier" (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, 2011).
Today, there are many good treatments available for PTSD. When one has PTSD, dealing with the past can be very hard. Group therapy allows veterans to share events of their traumatic experience and find healing by helping one another. Group therapy is ideal therapeutic environment to help veterans release any feelings of anger, doubt, guilt, fear, and shame. Being able to tell other veterans their story can help them face those fears that were caused by the trauma and move forward. Psychodynamic psychotherapy can help a veteran become more independent and learn to cope with their feelings by exposing the veteran to situations which will make the veteran recall the trauma and learn to get through those situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on helping a veteran deal with negative thoughts by learning to manage the feelings and stresses, so the veteran does not feel that they have to manage those feelings by using drugs or alcohol. Drug therapy can be used as a last resort for patients who need to calm anxiety and depression. By calming a patient by using medication they may be more willing to participate in group therapy and ultimately wean the veteran of the drugs (Treatment of PTSD, 2010).
Beyond affecting each veteran it can also affect their entire family. The kids or the partner may not understand why one gets angry sometimes, or why they are under so much stress. They may feel scared, guilty, or even angry about this condition. Family therapy is a type of counseling that involves the whole family. A therapist helps the veteran their family to communicate, maintain good relationships, and cope with tough emotions. This type of therapy allows the family to learn more about PTSD and how it is treated. In family therapy, each person can express their fears and concerns. It's important to be honest about what one is feeling and to listen to others. One can talk about their PTSD symptoms and what triggers them. They can also discuss the important parts of their treatment and recovery. By doing this, their family will be better prepared to help them through the rough times (Treatment of PTSD, 2010).
The goal of this intervention project is to determine what kinds of services are needed by veterans and their families, not only upon their return but also before they leave. This information can then be used to set up support groups and services that are directly linked to what is needed and will do the most good. In order to get the necessary information to set up the groups it will be necessary to conduct surveys and talk to veterans in order to determine what services and programs are needed.
An action plan would include designing a survey to be administered to military personnel who have not yet been deployed and veterans that have already come back. This would allow for both sides to be looked at. It will be important to figure out what types of support groups or services that people need before they go and when they get back. Focus groups could also be used in order to get ideas on possible services. Personal interviews with people would be another avenue…