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Behavioral Health Programs for Veterans

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Every years, citizens gather to celebrate Veteran's Day with big events planned to honor our service men/women. But behind all the music and cheers, how are our veterans really doing? To some of our veterans, the giant step away from the battlefield may only mark a very small step in their long journey of recovery and assimilation back to civilian life at home. The high rate of behavioral problems experienced by our veterans and the high suicide rate in the military highlight the issue.

Often the co-existence of multiple behavioral related conditions makes diagnosis and treatment for our veterans difficult. Common conditions include PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and traumatic brain injury. Studies show that between 36.9 and 50.2% of veterans in the VA healthcare system who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq have received a mental disorder diagnosis. Those with PTSD were 4 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts. [source: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) In Brief article] On the bright side, awareness drives changes. There is help available.

The SAMHSA In Brief article is a quick reference on behavioral health for veterans, their families, healthcare providers and social workers.  You can find websites and organizations that provide treatment assistance and support.

Natural Treatments for Veterans

For those who prefer more gentle and less invasion treatments, there are natural choices.

Eco-Therapy: Nature is a big healer. Private organizations and VA teaming up with communities are offering ecological-based programs as a natural therapy for veterans. Examples of programs include farming, habitat restoration, and eco-education. Allowing veterans to work together with other veterans and people from the community in a peaceful environment, these programs offer a great venue for veterans to get peer support and reconnected with their communities. They can also sense the positive re-enforcement from the tangible results of their hard work.

Alternative Treatments: Effective, yet non-invasive, treatments for PTSD that were mentioned in the SAMHSA In Brief article include exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Many of our business partners offer these treatments.

New Treatment: In our Oct 29 episode, we talked about groundbreaking research on using oxygen to treat brain injury. A test will be conducted in Washington. Listen In to see how you can participate.

To our many service men/women and veterans, Thank You and Welcome Home. May we all find Health, Peace, and Happiness this Veteran's Day.

To honor Veteran's Day, a discussion of resources available to help veterans integrate into the community upon their return from duties.

Listen to broadcast 11/05/13

Jeremy Grisham, Contractor, Veteran’s Conservation Corps, Washington State Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Karen Person, Staff Sergeant


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