Psychologists Are Meeting the Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of Our Nation's Military Men and Women

Psychologists Provide Critical Help to Returning Veterans with PTSD and TBI

  • According to the VA (2009), through August 2008, it is estimated that 76,000 enrolled OEF/OIF veterans have a probable diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 60,000 have a diagnosis of depression and nearly 13,000 have been diagnosed with an alcohol dependence syndrome.

  • Research has shown that psychological interventions can help prevent the long-term, chronic and devastating psychological consequences of one of the most serious costs of war – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).1

  • Returning veterans diagnosed with PTSD often suffer clinical depression, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, emotional numbing, recurring nightmares, and intrusive thoughts.  In many cases, the symptoms worsen with time, leaving the victims at higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, homelessness and suicide.4

  • Psychologists provide services to help returning veterans deal with the symptoms of PTSD. Cognitive Behavioral Counseling including exposure therapy is the most effective type of therapy.5

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has both neurological and cognitive/emotional components, and can result in PTSD itself.  In fact, TBI and PTSD symptoms often overlap (e.g. irritability, distractibility, and memory lapses).  Psychological services to assess cognitive and emotional functioning post TBI are essential to treatment planning and rehabilitation.2

  • Pentagon Officials estimate that up to 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries. Among them are 45,000 to 90,000 veterans whose symptoms persist and warrant specialized care.8

Psychologists Provide Critical Help for Those with Suicidal Ideations and Anger

  • Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering explosions of anger, suicidal and homicidal ideation, flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.6

  • Suicides have increased in the Army reaching a record high.7

Psychologists Help Traumatized Amputees

  • Psychologists help returning veterans cope with the devastating psychological trauma associated with amputation or disfigurement.3

  • Psychologists help soldiers regain a sense of confidence and ability to discuss their fears and concerns openly and honestly to help them gain independence and lead a fulfilling and productive life.3

  • Psychologists provide a safe place in which patients can discuss their anxieties and concerns about their disabilities.3

Psychologists Help Returning Soldiers and Families Learn Coping Skills

  • Psychologists provide training in effective coping skills for soldiers and their families. Some skills used in treating Iraq War veterans include: anxiety management, emotional grounding, anger management, and communication.4

  • Psychologists also help veterans and their families anticipate and prepare for family challenges that may lie ahead by providing courses in conflict resolution, parenting, establishing short-term support groups for family members.4

References

  1. American Psychological Association Psychology Matters.  The effects of trauma do not have to last a lifetime. Retrieved December 14, 2004, from the APA Web site.

  2. Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health. (2007). An achievable vision: Report of the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health. Falls Church, VA: Defense Health Board.

  3. National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (2004). Treating the traumatized amputee. In P. Schnurr & COL S. Cozza (Eds.), Iraq War Clinician Guide (pp. 50-54). US Department of Veterans Affairs.

  4. National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (2004). Treatment of the returning Iraq war veteran. In P. Schnurr & COL S. Cozza (Eds.), Iraq War Clinician Guide (pp. 33-35). US Department of Veterans Affairs.

  5. National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Treatment of PTSD: Fact Sheet. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved online on February 10, 2009.

  6. Benjamin, Mark; De Yoanna, Michael. Death in the USA: The Army’s Fatal Neglect. Retrieved online on February 12, 2009.

  7. Zoroya, Gregg. Army Suicides Rise As Time Spent in Combat Increases. USA Today. Retrieved online on February 4, 2009.

  8. Zoroya, Gregg. 360,000 veterans may have brain injuries. USA Today. Retrieved from online on March 13, 2009.