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By John M Grohol PsyD
November 11, 2009

This Veterans Day, as we honor the sacrifices made by soldiers who’ve served and those who continue to do so, we mark the 91st anniversary of the end of World War I. It seems so long ago to most of us — ancient history. Yet history is a teacher and if we don’t listen, we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes.

The mistake we’re repeating today is not doing enough to recognize and take care of veterans’ mental health needs. This isn’t some feel good mantra. This is a very real need that the military continues to have problems meeting. A professional, nonprofit that represents 1,600 behavioral healthcare organizations released a press release yesterday detailing some of the continuing issues.


“For instance, while the Veterans Mental Health Act was signed into law more than a year ago, a new survey released today by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) finds that veterans still face significant barriers to accessing mental health and substance use treatment. The Act requires the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with community behavioral health centers to increase capacity and expand mental health services to include marriage and family counseling.


“The survey of National Council members nationwide shows some of the most
serious roadblocks that prevent veterans from getting treatment include:


  • *Access to Care: Almost two-thirds of respondents said veterans and their families experience long delays to get initial appointments for people in crisis and excessive waits in between appointments.
  • *Long Distances: Veterans often must travel long distances to the VA or a military base. Travel times can be as long as five hours in rural areas. Others do not have access to a vehicle or public transportation, or may be unable to drive or take public transportation because of physical and
    mental limitations.
  • *Stigma: Many veterans are concerned that seeking treatment from the VA or military will be noted in their personnel records, negatively impact their careers, and label them as “weak” or “crazy.”
  • *Lack of Family Involvement: Though the Act specifically includes marriage and family counseling, few family members are involved in treatment. Respondents suggested these services are either not being provided or have not been widely promoted.”

Most Returning Veterans Won’t Seek Treatment

By Psych Central News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 11, 2009

On this Veterans Day, a new study was published that shows that most veterans returning from active duty wouldn’t seek mental health treatment, even if they were experiencing significant problems.

According to the study from the University of the Rockies, more than half (54.4 percent) of U.S. Army Special Forces Operators exposed to combat would not seek treatment while serving in the Army, even if they were experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms or psychological distress.


The 18-month study, which included 68 U.S. Army Special Forces Operators who had been deployed to combat since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, was conducted by Jessica M. Espinoza, PsyD., who earned her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the university. University of the Rockies is a graduate university specializing in master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology.


Even though 100 percent of respondents were aware that therapy was available to them through the U.S. Army, most said they would not seek treatment due to fear of negative consequences.


Of those negative consequences, the stigma attached to soldiers with PTSD was the biggest deterrent to seeking treatment, followed by the fear of being thought of as weak, the fear of being removed from an A-team, the fear of being removed from Special Forces, the fear of being ostracized, the fear of being thought of as a coward, the fear of being discharged from the U.S. Army, the fear of personal distress and the loss of security clearances and job opportunities.


PTSD is a debilitating disorder that follows from experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event. People with PTSD usually have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to.


Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/11/most-returning-veterans-wont-seek-treatment/9493.html



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