Veterans with PTSD: Community Support and Treatment Alternatives

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Many military Veterans have long given up home that the VA really care that they suffer from PTSD and can’t get the help they need and, more importantly, deserve!   SFTT has chronicled many stories of Veterans who either can’t get timely treatment or are provided a cocktail of potent drugs to deal with the symptoms that than treat the problem.

While there are many fine physicians and care-givers within the VA, it seems that the size of the organization and its inherent bureaucracy seems to get in the way of providing the support our Veterans need to reclaim their lives.  In the absence of this support, many local institutions and individuals are filling the vacuum to help Veterans deal with these problems within the confines of their local community.  While this may not be the “best” solution, it appears to be considerably better than the level of interest shown directly by the VA.   Found below are just a few of these initiatives:

Local nonprofit helps PTSD sufferers

Bilde25Four Letter Word is a nonprofit with local connections that provides assistance to PTSD sufferers who are members of the military special operations community or are veterans.

Lowell Koppert, an Aiken resident, is on Four Letter Word’s board. He also is a Green Beret and a recipient of multiple Bronze Stars. Four Letter Word provides support in the form of gear, training and travel at no cost to PTSD sufferers who get involved in endurance events as marathons and triathlons.

Four Letter Word’s founders believe intense physical activity can minimize the use of medications to cope with PTSD and prevent substance abuse and/or violence.

Based in the south, this is just one of many grassroots organization that has reached out to touch the lives or our brave Veterans.  Getting the message out to others is a way to help these organizations raise money for Vets

via Four Letter Word, local nonprofit, helps PTSD sufferers

Two New PTSD Treatments Offer Hope for Veterans

A couple of years ago, “60 Minutes broadcast a story about two new therapies being used to treat veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The treatments are called “Prolonged Exposure Therapy” (PE) and “Cognitive Processing Therapy” (CPT). The new treatments were originally designed for attack and abuse victims.”

Found below is a summarized description of these therapies:

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

“Dr. Kevin Reeder is the man behind the VA program. He explains that the idea is to relive the story of the attack at least five times in a single session, and then listen to your voice on tape re-telling the story. The belief is that hearing the traumatic memory repeatedly will neutralize its power from bubbling up from your subconscious memory and catching you off guard.

“Reeder said that Prolonged Exposure Therapy is designed to help people see “the impact and the meaning that these stories have on their lives.” He also said that these therapies were originally developed for abuse victims, and the symptoms are often similar for post-war PTSD.

“If you have PTSD, with the help of your therapist, you can change how you react to things that trigger traumatic memories. In PE, you work with your therapist to relive the trauma-related situations and verbalize the memories in a safe place and at a comfortable pace.

“Usually, you start with things that are less distressing and move towards things that are more distressing. A round of PE therapy most often involves meeting alone with a therapist for about 8 to 15 sessions. Most therapy sessions last 90 minutes.

“With time and practice, you will be able to see that you can master stressful situations. The goal is that you can learn to consciously control the ‘explicit’ memories and learn how to harness the ‘implicit’ memories when they surface from your subconscious mind. If you have PTSD, Prolonged Exposure Therapy can help you get your life back after you have been through a trauma.”

Cognitive Processing Therapy

“The VA is offering a second experimental therapy called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Dr. Reeder said that repeated trauma can leave veterans feeling like the world at large is a dangerous place. This therapy method begins with writing an impact statement, which is shared with the group in which veterans talk about “how their lives are still held in the grip of war.”

According to the VA, there are four components to CPT:

  1. Learning About Your PTSD Symptoms. CPT begins with education about your specific PTSD symptoms and how the treatment can help. The therapy plan will be reviewed and the reasons for each part of the therapy will be explained. You will be able to ask questions and to know exactly what you are going to be doing in this therapy. You will also learn why these skills may help.
  2. Becoming Aware of Thoughts and Feelings. Next, CPT focuses on helping you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. When bad things happen, we want to make sense of why they happened. An example would be a Veteran who thinks to himself or herself, “I should have known that this would happen.” Sometimes we get stuck on these thoughts. In CPT you will learn how to pay attention to your thoughts about the trauma and how they make you feel. You’ll then be asked to step back and think about how your trauma is affecting you now. This will help you think about your trauma in a different way than you did before. It can be done either by writing or by talking to your therapist about it.
  3. Learning Skills. After you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, you will learn skills to help you question or challenge your thoughts. You will do this with the help of worksheets. You will be able to use these skills to decide the way you want to think and feel about your trauma. These skills can also help you deal with other problems in your day-to-day life.
  4. Understanding Changes in Beliefs. Finally, you will learn about the common changes in beliefs that occur after going through trauma. Many people have problems understanding how to live in the world after trauma. Your beliefs about safety, trust, control, self-esteem, other people, and relationships can change after trauma. In CPT you will get to talk about your beliefs in these different areas. You will learn to find a better balance between the beliefs you had before and after your trauma.

via Two New PTSD Treatments Offer Hope for Veterans

Clearly, these alternative treatment methodologies are proving to be quite helpful for many Veterans, but does the VA have the capabilities to properly diagnose all Veterans and determine that CPT and PET are viable treatment alternatives.



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