When we think of the consequences of war, what comes to mind is its physical toll on soldiers. We see this in the way that they bravely put their lives on the line to fight for freedom and their people. Many go home with physical wounds that are treated through physical therapy or hospitals. However, there is also a mental toll on the soldiers fighting the battles of their country that can be addressed through counseling.
What is not visible are the non-physical ramifications that a soldier receives from their service. It’s not as easy to diagnose and can consequently worsen as a veteran or the people around them don’t realize that we cannot always see wounds. Military service leaves mental scars that can cause deep suffering to veterans.
Veterans counseling is a way for war veterans to address the negative impact of their time in military service as they go back home to their families and friends. It’s not uncommon for mental health issues and social difficulties to be experienced by soldiers coming home. Despite being off the field, these problems can be just as fatal and detrimental to their lives as physical wounds.
Mental Health Issues for Veterans
There are a variety of mental and social problems that veterans face when coming home. As soldiers, they have had their fair share of high-stress situations that have left marks on their psyche. These issues can often manifest in their behaviors and negative stress reactions. Veterans find that the battlefield they left behind can find many ways to continue haunting them in their homes.
A veteran’s mental wellbeing is not something that should be overlooked. These issues, while often easily ignored, must be treated seriously and as soon as possible. There is a lack of information and awareness regarding mental health, making it even more difficult for veterans to acknowledge their situation.
One of the most common mental health problems a veteran may face is PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This disorder is often developed in persons, in this case, veterans, who face traumatic events. In the face of the dangers of war, a heightened stress reaction such as the fight-or-flight response is not at all uncommon. However, veterans can retain this reaction once the situation has passed, causing nightmares, flashbacks, and different arousal symptoms when faced with triggers.
Another mental health issue that stems from trauma during a veteran’s experiences in military service is combat stress or trauma. It can develop under the constant strain a soldier experiences on the field. While it may differ from person to person, this trauma can manifest through irritability, excessive fear and worry, depression, sleeping changes sleeping problems, and behavior changes sleeping problems, and behavior changes.
PTSD and combat stress are only a few of the possible problems that veterans might struggle with. Below is a list of other possible mental health issues that should be addressed as soon as possible.
- Substance Use and Abuse
- Traumatic Grief
- Sleeping Problems
Many of these are co-occurring mental health conditions, meaning that you can have more than one condition that affects each other. Treating one can often alleviate others’ symptoms, but all of these conditions have a real impact on a veteran’s life and should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Seeking Help From Counselors
How can we treat these mental health problems?
The key is not to be afraid to seek help. Veteran centers and veteran counselors are available to address the needs and concerns of veterans. Their family and friends are there to support their journey. Counselors work closely with both the veteran and their social circle to help them adjust back into civilian life.
Veteran counselors put the veteran’s mental and emotional wellbeing first. Addressing the mental health issues listed above is part of their work. Not only that, but helping them adjust to the transition from military to the civilian environment is a challenge they are there to guide veterans through.
Many forms of counseling veteran counselors can provide to address the variety of mental, emotional, and social difficulties veterans can encounter. Counseling focused on the transition from a military environment to civilian life is called readjustment counseling. This counseling addresses a range of both psychological and social issues through individual and group counseling for both veterans and their families.
A variety of counseling services focuses on different concerns and needs of veterans. Bereavement counseling assists those who have lost a loved one. Military sexual trauma counseling addresses the needs of veterans who have suffered sexual trauma in the military service. These are tailored to address different needs.
The Stigma Against Seeking Counseling
It is not bad to need help. The stigma against mental health issues prevents many veterans from seeking professional help and support from seeking veteran counseling. Support and counseling services such as readjustment counseling can be vital in the transition to civilian life. However, the stigma born from the view that mental health issues are a sign of weakness and a generally negative outlook on mental health can cause veterans, and those around them, to hesitate to acknowledge that there is a problem.
Support from others and help from veteran counselors can truly make the difference in easing the transition. Many veterans share their stories of keeping their silence about these problems versus finding the support and help they need.
Veteran centers and other veteran healthcare institutions offer these services to give back to the soldiers who have fought for the country and improve their quality of life. Mental and social health issues are existing problems that can lead to serious consequences. These issues do not lessen a person’s worth, nor do they mean that there is no more hope.
Recovery Is Possible
The path that veterans walk is difficult and fraught with difficulties. These brave soldiers have fought and experienced terrors to keep their countries safe, and in their battles, they have accumulated both physical and mental wounds.
Life after a war is still an uphill battle. Veterans need all the help they can get to heal from the marks left from their military service and transition back into civilian life. Veteran counseling can be the best provider of care that they need to reach the peace they have fought for.
Mental health is an all-new battle, but our soldiers don’t need to fight alone. Together, with the help of counseling and the support of family and friends, recovery is possible.