Mental health is critical to overall wellbeing which is why the Veterans Affairs (VA) and Tricare-authorized providers like Rally Point are strengthening their commitment to providing mental health support for veterans and their families. There are a variety of resources to help veterans like non-medical confidential counseling, treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs, and suicide prevention. If you or a family member is struggling with mental health issues, know that you’re not alone and that there’s help for veterans available.
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Tricare Expands Treatment Options
In 2017, Tricare expanded mental health benefits which include more treatment options for opioid and other substance-use issues for veterans and their families.
These new benefits include:
- Emergency and nonemergency inpatient hospitalization
- Psychiatric residential treatment care for children
- Inpatient/residential substance-use disorder care
- Partial hospitalization
- Outpatient and office-based mental health and substance-use treatment
With these changes, there’s more flexibility for service members, veterans, and their families to receive the appropriate level of care for their mental health needs. Furthermore, the number of mental health treatment providers and substance use treatment providers has significantly increased and limits have been removed on the number of times per week a person can receive services like substance use treatment, smoking cessation counseling, and outpatient treatment. These new benefits make it easier than ever for veterans to find and keep mental health services.
Non-Medical Counseling For Veterans
Military OneSource, a military resource website that offers 24/7 support, has counselors that are available for free, short-term, confidential non-medical counseling services for a wide range of issues. Sessions can take place in a variety of ways such as in person, over the phone, or via secure video or online chat. You can get help for topics like:
- Marital problems
- Relationships at school or work
- Stress management
- Adjustment difficulties
- Grief and loss
- Other emotional/interpersonal issues
Non-medical counseling through Military OneSource is available to the following:
- Active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members
- Immediate family members of active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members
- Children ages 13-17 can receive face-to-face counseling on their own
- Children ages 6-12 can receive face-to-face counseling with a parent present
- Retired or honorably discharged service members and family members up to 180 days after the date of retirement or discharge
Non-medical counseling is beneficial for a variety of issues but it won’t be enough to handle more serious ones such as suicidal thoughts, diagnosed mental health conditions, alcohol or substance abuse, domestic or child abuse or neglect, or sexual assault. If you’re in crisis, please call the Military Crisis Line 800-273-8255 and press 1 for immediate support. To report child or domestic abuse, please contact the closest Family Advocacy Program.
Another place you can turn to is the VA’s Vet Center Program which provides quality readjustment counseling and can be found at Vet Centers across the United States. If you have served in any combat zone, you and your family are eligible.
How PTSD Affects Veterans
Traumatic events like combat, natural disaster, car accident, or sexual assault can have profound effects long after they’ve happened. After a traumatic event, it’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping but if symptoms persist more than a few months, you may have PTSD. There are several factors that influence the development of PTSD such as individual personality, the severity of the event, proximity to the event, the people involved in the event, duration of the trauma, and the amount of support the person receives afterward. 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
Symptoms of PTSD aren’t exactly the same in everyone and may appear immediately after a traumatic event or later on in life. Additionally, symptoms of a “typical” stress reaction often look similar to those of PTSD but true PTSD symptoms continue for a longer period of time and often interfere with daily life, commitments, and relationships. Only a trained medical professional can diagnose PTSD, however, possible signs of the disorder include:
- Flashbacks: PTSD sufferers often experience flashbacks or moments in which they re-live the traumatic event or re-experience intense feelings like fear.
- Avoidance/numbness: Due to flashbacks or re-experiencing intense feelings, those with PTSD may go out of their way to avoid places and things that remind them of the traumatic event.
- Hyperarousal: PTSD can also cause feeling constantly on edge or irritable, as well as, difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
PTSD can affect children as well and can cause trouble sleeping and behavioral issues like acting out or regression in toilet training, speech, or behavior. Parents, teachers, and caregivers may also notice that the child’s artwork or pretend play involves dark or violent themes or details.
Getting Treatment For PTSD
PTSD won’t go away on its own by ignoring it or pretending that everything is fine – improve the quality of your life and those of your loved ones by seeking help. If you’re not sure where to get treatment for PTSD, these are all great places to start:
- A local military treatment facility or covered services which you can find on https://www.tricare.mil/.
- If you have civilian healthcare, you can discuss treatment options with your doctor.
- A local VA hospital which you can find through the Veterans Health Administration website.
- If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, please call the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 to connect with mental health support and crisis counseling services.
Whether you have PTSD, an addiction, or just need someone to talk to, there’s help for veterans available across the country. Mental health support for veterans has greatly increased over the years as more and more people begin to understand the key role mental health plays in a person’s overall wellbeing. You wouldn’t leave a physical wound untreated – there’s no shame in seeking help for your mental wounds.
Here at Rally Point in West Palm Beach, Florida, veterans in need can receive quality addiction treatment that also addresses and treats co-occurring disorders like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Co-occurring disorders are a result of when people try to cope with their PTSD, depression, etc. by drinking or taking drugs. With veterans on our staff, you’ll find a safe, welcoming community that allows you to focus on what matters most: living a healthier, happier life. Call or email us today to get started on your personalized treatment plan!