Veteran counseling programs are designed to provide both veterans and their families with top-notch mental health care services.
For those who are feeling depressed, having problems within their marriage, or drinking in excess, veteran counseling programs may be the answer. These programs help provide counseling to veterans who are struggling with a number of issues including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual assault, civilian reintegration, substance use disorder (SUD), and other mental health issues. These issues among veterans, when left untreated, can lead to a higher number of preventable injuries, run-ins with law enforcement, and even increased risk for suicide. Young, male veterans are most likely to develop substance use disorders. Luckily, with veteran counseling programs open throughout the nation, veterans no longer have to deal with these issues alone.
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Veterans’ Mental Health & Substance Use
Once veterans return home, adjusting to civilian life can be difficult. While deployed or in combat, the emotions of a person must be suppressed to an extent. Upon returning home, veterans find they no longer need to live their life being desensitized. Though being back on home soil gives them time to process through their time in the service, it also oftentimes brings mental health concerns to light. Often, veterans will turn to drugs or alcohol to help numb their feelings.
Mental health problems can also affect civilian life in a number of other ways, namely with the relationships and friendships a person has. In fact, issues like depression and anxiety are common among veterans and their families both before and after deployment. Mental health concerns are even more significant in the homes of veterans who have physical injuries or PTSD. While a period of readjustment is completely normal upon returning to civilian life, if adjustment problems continue to occur, counseling should be sought out.
Signs of PTSD in Veterans
It is completely normal for traumatic effects to have a lasting effect on a person. Symptoms like feelings of anxiety, upsetting thoughts or memories, and having sleep issues are all common and can last for weeks or even months after a trauma. However, if these symptoms persist for more than a few months, there is a chance you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person’s risk of developing PTSD can increase if they:
- Were directly involved in the traumatic event
- Were injured or almost died in the event
- Were in an event that was long-lasting or particularly severe
- Truly thought that their life or the life of a loved one was in danger
- Had a physical reaction or strong emotional reaction during the trauma
- Have other sources of stress
- Did not receive proper support after the trauma
PTSD symptoms can begin right away, though they may not start until days, weeks, months, or even years after the trauma has occurred. While at first symptoms may look like a typical ‘stress’ reaction, the duration and severity of the symptoms are what characterize PTSD, which affects day-to-day life and relationships with others. PTSD should always be diagnosed by a trained professional. Signs of PTSD can include:
- Flashbacks with intense feelings
- Seeming on edge or irritable
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Avoiding places associated with the trauma
- Numbing emotions through substance use or abuse
For veterans experiencing difficulties with PTSD symptoms, readjustment issues, or substance abuse issues, veteran counseling programs may be a good idea. These programs are meant to help veterans feel better and live happier lives.
Where To Find Veteran Counseling Programs
When it comes to finding a veteran counseling program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may be a good place to start. There are also a vast number of other counseling services and resources meant to help veterans and their families.
- VA Mental Health: A program that connects both veterans and family members to support options through local VA centers, online, and through telehealth sessions. Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Guidebook for more information.
- National Center for PTSD: Being a research and education center means that the National Center for PTSD is able to use the latest research to help those with PTSD. You can use the VA’s program directory to look for PTSD programs close to you.
- Vet Centers: Created by the VA, Vet Centers are designed to offer a number of different services to veterans, such as individual and group counseling, readjustment counseling, marriage and family counseling, alcohol and drug assessments, and suicide prevention referrals. The VA’s facility locator tool can help find a Vet Center close to you.
- Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE): Established with the Department of Defense and Military Health System, PHCoE is designed to help improve the lives of veterans and their families.
- TRICARE: TRICARE, a healthcare program by the Defense Health Agency, is a program to help service members, veterans, and their families receive mental health care services.
- Military OneSource: Military OneSource functions as a call center and a website, funded by the DOD, meant to help provide information, assistance, and other resources (including mental health services) to veterans.
- Veterans Crisis Line: Confidential, free services available for veterans over the phone, text, or online regardless of registration with the VA or VA health care.
- National Resource Directory (NRD): Working to connect veterans and wounded service members with support programs in partnership with the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.
- Warrior Care: Supports wounded and ill service members in their recovery and transition into civilian life.
- AMVETS: A service organization for veterans that provides those who were honorably discharged with information, counseling and claims services.
- The Soldiers Project: Designed to provide free, unlimited health care services to post 9/11 veterans, active duty service members, and their families.
- Cohen Veterans Network: This non-profit network provides therapy and counseling programs at low or no cost to post 9/11 veterans and their families.
- National Veterans Foundation (NVF): A program operated by veterans, the NVF helps veterans and their families find services for whatever they require, from crisis intervention to mental health counseling.
There are a vast number of different programs available to veterans and their loved ones. These programs are often available multiple ways, usually in person, over the phone, and online. For those who are dealing with alcohol or prescription drug abuse, other more specific care services may be required.
Veteran Alcohol and Drug Counseling
Co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse disorders are common in veterans. Co-occurring disorders can come about in a variety of ways, but typically substance use disorders are developed as a result of trying to cope with a mental health issue like PTSD or depression and anxiety. As a TRICARE authorized care provider, we are happy to offer both alcohol and drug courses to veterans in addition to co-occurring mental health disorders like PTSD and the like. Proudly staffed by veterans who are trained in trauma-informed care, at Rally Point our goal is to create a supportive community for our patients, free of judgment. Contact us today to discover how treatment can help you live a happier, healthier life.