In 2013, the U.S. Senate designated the entire month of June as National Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month to raise public awareness of PTSD and its effective treatments. Every day, thousands of the 1.7 million Veterans in Texas either knowingly or unknowingly grapple with the effects of trauma experienced while in the military.
By increasing awareness and understanding of PTSD, we hope Veterans and those close to them will be better able to recognize symptoms and seek care.
What is PTSD?
“Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder resulting from exposure to a single traumatic event or multiple traumatic events, such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress.” — National Center for PTSD
Common reactions to trauma exposure include:
- emotional and psychological sensititivity to reminders of the trauma
- intrusive recollections of the trauma
- trauma-related nightmares or night terrors
- avoidance of people, places and things
- loss of interest and pleasure
- increased startle response
- trouble concentrating
- irritability and anger
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, it’s natural for a person to feel afraid when in danger. “This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. This phenomenon is known as a ‘fight-or-flight’ response which is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger.”
PTSD is not a sign of weakness, it is a natural response to trauma and it is treatable. Some types of treatments include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. Some non-traditional approaches to healing include Yoga and art therapy. There are many organizations that provide specially trained animals to help Veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
How Many are Affected?
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Center for PTSD, the number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era. It is estimated that between 11 and 20% who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year; about 12% of those who served in the Gulf War (Desert Storm) have PTSD in a given year. For Vietnam Veterans, about 30% are estimated to have PTSD in their lifetime.
The National Center for PTSD was established in 1989 within the VA “to address the needs of Veterans and other trauma survivors with PTSD and to improve the well-being, status, and understanding of Veterans in American Society.” If you are a Veteran or military member struggling with the symptoms of PTSD, please reach out to a family member, friend, doctor or someone you trust.
If you are in crisis you can:
- call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room
- call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1–800–273–8255, press 1
- call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1–800–273–8255
- text the Veterans Crisis Line (text to 838255)
- have a Confidential Veterans Chat online with a counselor
- About Face
- Defense Centers of Excellence
- Foundation for Art & Healing
- Make the Connection
- Military OneSource
- Military Veteran Peer Network
- Patriot Paws Service Dogs
- Save A Warrior Foundation
- Train a Dog Save a Warrior
- We Honor Veterans
- Wingman Project
- VA Vet Center Program
- VA Women Veterans Healthcare
- Yoga for Vets
- Yoga Warriors
Mobile Apps for Stress & Mood Management
To participate in spreading awareness about PTSD remember to Learn, Connect and Share.