While all veterans are linked together through their service and this shared identity, they are a diverse and varied population. Each of them has a unique experience and will have their own opinions and reactions to their time. For many veterans, recent events have been distressing and can cause an increase in mental health symptoms.
Amanda M. Spray, PhD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and program director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center, wrote in an op-ed for New York Daily News about the need to be mindful of the mental health needs of veterans. She noted the recent 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks and withdrawal from Afghanistan as important events to many current and former members of the armed forces. While reactions to these events are varied, the feelings and memories they stir up can be understandably triggering to veterans across eras.
As we become more aware of mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the stigma starts to lessen, making it easier to spread the word, and for civilians to support members of the armed forces. What seems to have helped veterans in the face of these stressors has been relying on one another—to provide welcomed social support and recognize when professional support is needed. Veterans have supported each other through open discussions on these tremendously challenging topics. They have also rallied together to save the lives of those who helped them stay safe and carry out their missions overseas.
“We have also seen veterans reaching out for mental health services, sometimes for the first time, in response to both the anniversary and withdrawal, often at the encouragement of their fellow veterans,” says Dr. Spray. “We have evidence-based treatments for the common reactions to trauma including PTSD, depression, and anxiety. While stigma about mental health treatment continues, we have seen many veterans seeking care for the first time in response to recent events.”
Read more from the New York Daily News.