Mental health concerns among our United States veterans are too often overlooked upon their return from service. Those who risk their lives serving in the United States military or other armed forces commonly return home and are expected to adjust back to civilian life without proper mental health support.
In an effort to help provide mental health assistance, organizations like the VA (Veterans Affairs) and other Tricare-approved health care providers like Rally Point are doing their best to continuously provide support to veterans and their loved ones. Both the VA and Tricare-accepting providers are able to offer a number of different programs to veterans. These programs range greatly, which gives veterans a better chance of finding a program suited to them. Treatment programs for post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide prevention, and other mental health programs are available, as are substance abuse and alcohol addiction counseling and treatment. These programs are designed to help veterans heal mentally and more easily get through the adjustment back to civilian life.
If you or someone you know and love is a veteran who is dealing with mental health issues or substance abuse issues, please seek treatment and keep in mind that you are not alone.
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Tricare Expands Treatment Options
As of 2017, Tricare has expanded its list of mental health benefits. These benefits include treatment options for veterans who are dealing with substance abuse issues as well as the families of those vets. Tricare’s most recent list of benefits includes:
- Partial hospitalization
- Residential psychiatric treatment for children
- Inpatient hospitalization for emergency and nonemergency situations
- Inpatient or residential care for those facing substance abuse disorders
- Outpatient treatment and office-based mental health or substance abuse treatment
These changes are extremely beneficial, as now Tricare is able to offer even more flexibility for veterans and their loved ones. The expansion of coverage now includes an even larger number of medical and mental health care providers as options for treatment. The previous limit on the number of visits per week for certain treatments has been removed as well, allowing patients to take advantage of programs like substance abuse treatment and other outpatient treatments based on their individual needs. Finding treatment for veterans through mental health services and substance abuse programs has never been easier.
Non-Medical Counseling for Veterans
The VA is commonly the first place many veterans will turn to when seeking treatment programs or other non-medical health care services. One counseling option for veterans through the VA is their Vet Center Program. Found at various Vet Centers throughout the United States of America, the VA’s Vet Center Program is designed to provide veterans with quality readjustment counseling. Having served in any combat zone automatically makes a veteran and their family eligible for the program.
Outside of the VA, there are other options for veterans when it comes to non-medical counseling. For example, Military OneSource, a military resource website offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The site has free counselors available for non-medical, short-term counseling. This counseling can cover an array of different issues, and sessions are available over the phone, in person, or even in a confidential online chat or online video. Military OneSource offers help for veterans with problems including, but not limited to:
- Adjustment counseling
- Relationship or marital problems
- Stress/grief management
- Parenting problems
- Other issues
Counseling through Military Onesource is available to those who meet any of the following requirements:
- Are active duty, National Guard or Reserve service members and their immediate families
- Children 6-12: face to face counseling with a parent present
- Children 13-17: face to face counseling available on their own
- Those who are honorably discharged or retired and their family members (up to 100 days after discharge or retirement date)
Non-medical counseling can be helpful when it comes to working through a variety of common issues. However, this type of counseling is not able to assist with more serious issues like suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, child or domestic abuse, sexual assault, or diagnosed mental conditions. Those in crisis should call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, then dial 1 for immediate support.
How PTSD Affects Veterans
After traumatic events like combat, it’s common to have some lasting effects in the short term, such as feeling on edge, trouble sleeping, or having upsetting memories. However, if these symptoms last longer than a few months, there is a chance you may have PTSD. Your risk of developing PTSD can increase depending on a number of factors:
- If you were directly involved in the incident
- If you were injured
- If you had a near-death experience
- If the event was long-lasting
- If you had a strong reaction to the event
- The quality of support you received after the event
- The other stress factors present in your life
The symptoms of PTSD and its influence on individuals can range greatly from person to person. Symptoms may begin to occur right after the traumatic incident or they may have a delayed onset, only starting after a period of time has elapsed after the event. Symptoms of PTSD can commonly appear to be normal ‘stress’ symptoms, though they last much longer than normal stress and affect the ability to go on with life on a day-to-day basis. It is important to be diagnosed only by a trained medical professional, though common symptoms of PTSD include:
- Avoidance/numbness: Avoiding things or places that may trigger flashbacks so as not to be reminded of the incident
- Flashbacks: the feeling of reliving the traumatic event along with feelings of fear and anxiety
- Hyperarousal: feeling irritable or on edge along with having trouble concentrating and sleeping
Children are at risk of developing PTSD after a traumatic event as well. Symptoms of PTSD in children can come in the form of acting out or behaving oddly, regression in various learned behaviors, and dark or violent themes in the artwork of the child.
Getting Treatment For PTSD
PTSD is not something that will go away on its own. Those dealing with PTSD need to seek professional help. Here are a few places to start when it comes to receiving treatment:
- Your local VA (locations can be found through the Veterans Health Administration site)
- Through your civilian healthcare provider
- Tricare approved providers
- If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the Military Crisis Line (800-273-8255)
Here at Rally Point Palm Beach, veterans are able to receive quality substance abuse treatment as well as treatment for mental health issues including PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Veterans are a part of our staff, which helps them connect with patients on a deeper level to ultimately achieve their goal of living a better life. Contact us today to start your journey to health and happiness.