Table of Contents
Whether you’re feeling depressed, having marital problems, or drinking too much, there are veteran counseling programs that provide veterans and their families with quality mental health care. These programs provide counseling to veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder (SUD), military sexual trauma, civilian reintegration, and more. When mental health issues are left untreated, veterans are at a higher risk for suicide, addiction, run-ins with the law, and preventable death/serious injury – young, male veterans are particularly vulnerable to developing an SUD. With counseling programs available across the country, however, veterans don’t have to suffer in silence.
Veterans’ Mental Health & Substance Use
After leaving the military, veterans may find that they’re unable to continue ignoring their mental health because they no longer have to desensitize and suppress emotions like they did when they were on deployment or in combat. Being back home gives veterans the time and space to process what happened to them, but since they’ve trained themselves not to feel, they may turn to drinking heavily or abusing prescription drugs to numb their feelings.
Mental health issues can also affect how veterans readjust to civilian life, impacting relationships, work, and school. Depression and anxiety are common for veterans, particularly those with a physical injury and/or PTSD, and their spouses both during and after deployment. And while it’s typical for there to be a readjustment period when the veteran returns home, if re-adjustment problems continue, counseling should be sought.
Signs of PTSD
The effects of traumatic events can present themselves long after when they initially happened. It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel anxious, or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event but if symptoms persist more than a few months, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The risk of developing PTSD increases if you:
- Were directly involved in the traumatic event
- Were injured or had a near-death experience
- Survived an especially long-lasting or severe traumatic event
- Truly believed your life or that of someone around you was in danger
- Had a strong emotional or physical reaction during the event
- Received little or no support following the event
- Have multiple other sources of stress in your life
After the traumatic event, PTSD symptoms can appear right away or months, possibly years, later. While a “typical” stress reaction and PTSD look similar, PTSD symptoms continue for a longer period of time and interferes with relationships, daily life, and commitments. PTSD can only be diagnosed by a trained professional but some signs that a person has PTSD is if he or she:
- Has flashbacks of the traumatic event and re-experiences the intense feelings associated with it.
- Avoids places and things that could trigger flashbacks and numbs emotions through substance use.
- Feels on edge or irritable and has difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
If you’re a veteran who is experiencing PTSD symptoms, readjustment problems, or trouble with substance use, we strongly encourage you to seek veteran counseling programs to feel better and improve your quality of life.
Where To Find Veteran Counseling Programs
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is a good starting point when searching for veteran counseling programs but it’s only one of many that offer counseling services and resources. See how these organizations are helping veterans and their families in need.
- VA Mental Health:Connects veterans and family members to support through local VA facilities, telehealth sessions, and online resources. For more information, check out its Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Guidebook.
- National Center For PTSD: A research and educational center for PTSD and trauma that uses the latest research findings to help those exposed to trauma. Find PTSD programs close to you by using the VA’s program directory.
- Vet Centers: The VA’s Vet Centers offer a variety of services to help veterans make a successful transition from military to civilian life. Services include individual and group counseling, readjustment counseling, marital and family counseling, military sexual trauma counseling, alcohol and drug assessment, suicide prevention referrals, and more. Find a Vet Center close to you by using the VA’s facility locator tool.
- Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE): In partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Military Health System, PHCoE’s mission is to improve the lives of service members, veterans, and their families by advancing excellence in psychological health care.
- TRICARE: The Defense Health Agency’s health care program for service members, retirees, and their families. Its comprehensive services include mental health care.
- Military OneSource: Funded by the DoD, Military OneSource is both a call center and a website that provides information, resources, and assistance on all aspects of military life, including mental health.
- Veterans Crisis Line: A free, confidential resource that’s available to all veterans regardless if they’re registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health care. Veterans can call, text, or chat online to connect with support.
- National Resource Directory (NRD): Connects wounded service members and veterans with support programs. NRD is a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.
- Warrior Care: Under the DoD, Warrior Care supports wounded, ill, and injured service members in their recovery and reintegration or transition to civilian life.
- AMVETS: A veterans service organization that provides information, counseling, and claims service to all honorably discharged veterans and their families.
- The Soldiers Project: A non-profit that offers free, confidential, and unlimited mental health services for post 9/11 veterans, active duty service members, and their families.
- Cohen Veterans Network: A non-profit that provides therapy and counseling for a variety of mental health issues to all post-9/11 veterans and their families at low to no cost.
- National Veterans Foundation (NVF): Operated by veterans, NVF helps all U.S. veterans and their families get the help they need whether it’s suicide and crisis intervention or mental health counseling.
There are a lot of places where you can find veteran counseling programs like the VA, DoD, and non-profits. Not only are there a variety of counseling options but many of these organizations offer multiple ways to reach out for support, like in-person, call, text, and online chat, to fit veterans’ different comfort levels. If you’re seeking counseling for drinking or prescription drug use, however, you may want to consider more personalized treatment through a private provider.
Veteran Alcohol and Drug Counseling
Mental health and substance use are often intertwined and you can’t treat one without treating the other. Often, veterans will develop an SUD as they try to cope with their PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc. with alcohol or prescription drugs. As a TRICARE-authorized treatment provider, not only do we offer alcohol and drug counseling to veterans, we also treat co-occurring disorders (i.e. when two or more disorders are diagnosed) like SUDs and PTSD. With veterans on staff and a trauma-informed care model, we’re able to provide a judgement-free, supportive community for all of our veteran clients. Call or email us today to see how we can help you with lasting recovery.