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Old 05-27-2008, 08:25 PM   #1
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Default Wartime PTSD cases jumped roughly 50 pct. in 2007

AP - The number of troops with new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007 amid the military buildup in Iraq and increased violence there and in Afghanistan.



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Old 08-02-2010, 12:53 AM   #2
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Still too many...

Army Suicides Reach One A Day
Thursday, July 29, 2010; Epidemic Spreads to National Guard and Reserves
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The U.S. Army, along with the National Guard and Army Reserves, averaged a suicide a day in June, making what already was a bad year even worse.

Thirty-two soldiers, including 11 in the Guard and Reserve, killed themselves last month, a rate of suicide not seen since the Vietnam War. Seven of the suicides took place I Iraq or Afghanistan.

During the first six months of 2010, 65 members of the Guard and Reserve took their own lives, compared with 42 for the same period in 2009.

Although the strain of multiple deployments is often cited as a major cause in the rise in military suicides, this is only occasionally a factor in National Guard and Reserves cases. Some observers feel that the military suffers from a drastic shortage of mental health professionals.

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Old 10-13-2010, 10:53 PM   #3
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A tough nut to crack but they might start by reducing re-deployments...

Despite Army Efforts, Soldier Suicides Continue
October 10, 2010 — At 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday in August, Specialist Armando G. Aguilar Jr. found himself at the end of his short life. He was standing, drunk and weepy, in the parking lot of a Valero station outside Waco, Tex. He had jumped out of his moving pickup. There was a police officer talking to him in frantic tones. Specialist Aguilar held a pistol pointed at his head.
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This moment had been a long time coming, his family said. He had twice tried to commit suicide with pills since returning from a tough tour in Iraq a year earlier, where his job was to drive an armored vehicle to search for bombs. Army doctors had put him on medications for depression, insomnia, nightmares and panic attacks. Specialist Aguilar was seeing an Army therapist every week. But he had been getting worse in the days before his death, his parents said, seeing shadowy figures that were not there, hallucinating that he heard loud noises outside his trailer home.

“He wanted help — he was out there asking for help,” said his father, Armando Aguilar Sr. “He just snapped. He couldn’t control what he was doing no more.” Specialist Aguilar was one of 20 soldiers connected to Fort Hood who are believed to have committed suicide this year. The Army has confirmed 14 of those, and is completing the official investigations of six other soldiers who appear to have taken their own lives — four of them in one week in September. The deaths have made this the worst year at the sprawling fort since the military began keeping track in 2003.

The spate of suicides in Texas reflects a chilling reality: nearly 20 months after the Army began strengthening its suicide prevention program and working to remove the stigma attached to seeking psychological counseling, the suicide rate among active service members remains high and shows little sign of improvement. Through August, at least 125 active members of the Army had ended their own lives, exceeding the morbid pace of last year, when there were a record 162 suicides. “If the test for success is our numbers and our rate, then clearly we have not been successful,” said Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy director of a special task force established to reduce suicides.

More http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/us/11suicides.html
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:07 PM   #4
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PTSD Could Become More Common In Workplace...

As veterans return, PTSD could become more common in workplace
Tue Dec 25 2012 - At a recent weekly staff meeting, human resources manager Zetta Ferguson noticed that one of her employees wasn’t sitting at the conference table.
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She encouraged the employee who was sitting against the wall, Corey Michael McGee, to join the rest of the group at the table, but he declined. After the meeting, McGee explained: “I sit against the wall where I’m safest. Or in my mind I feel I’m safest.” An army veteran who was struck by an improvised explosive device and gunfire in Fallujah, Iraq, McGee says post-traumatic stress disorder and some remaining effects of his injuries affect him in some ways in the workplace, but “it’s gotten a lot better over the years.” Many employers have not delved deeply into how they might address PTSD, a relatively new issue, but they could face it more frequently as more veterans return to the workforce.

About 2.4 million members of the military have been deployed in the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands are returning home. The influx is expected to continue until 2016. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates as many as 11 per cent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan and 20 per cent of Iraqi war veterans are afflicted by PTSD, which can generate both sympathy and fear. Employees with the disorder may face problems arising from anxiety or have limited ability to perform certain tasks. At the same time, some employers may overreact, and veterans often don’t want employers or co-workers to assume they have a condition resulting from combat.

Ferguson, an HR manager at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Decatur, Ga., is experiencing the challenges firsthand. It sometimes takes creativity to address McGee’s needs while capitalizing on his strengths and maintaining his privacy, she said. She decided, for example, to invite employees to sit wherever they wanted to avoid singling McGee out. “Nobody wants to feel like they don’t fit in,” said Ferguson, who is a veteran herself.

PTSD can often rise to the level of a disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which calls for employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees to do their jobs, said Jennifer Sandberg, a partner at labour and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips. Administrative charges of PTSD discrimination filed under the ADA totalled 593 in fiscal year 2011, and have increased every year since 2006, according to data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Some who suffer PTSD have problems with memory, concentration, organization or sleep — all of which can affect their work, according to a Department of Labor website for employers. PTSD affects about 7.7 million adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Old 04-07-2013, 12:40 AM   #5
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New eyes take a fresh look at PTSD...

Ex-Army nurse on a quest for more research on PTSD treatment
April 6, 2013 — Retired Lt. Col. Linda Fletcher, a 22-year veteran of the Army Nurse Corps, thinks it’s time to ask different questions about post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts many returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
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What if the medical diagnostic definition of PTSD is not comprehensive enough? What if, as a result, current treatments that have been used since World War II have limited success? Fletcher, who now lives in Long Lake Township, has spent the last six years researching PTSD and treatments on her own. She will teach a two-session Northwestern Michigan College extended education class later this month. PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying and/or tragic event — war, combat, catastrophe and abuse of all kinds. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Timely diagnosis and effective treatment have become a major national concern. Statistics tell why.

A U.S. military veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes, on average, according to the most recent Department of Veterans Affairs study. About 22 veterans committed suicide each day in 2010. Nearly 30 percent of the veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD and 50 percent of those with PTSD do not seek treatment. Female veterans are particularly likely to suffer from mental health issues. According to the VA, about one in five female veterans have post-traumatic stress related to "military sexual trauma," a catch-all category that includes everything from sexual harassment to rape.

Fletcher said she is concerned about the long-term effect PTSD will have on the vets, their families and American society. “What we are doing doesn’t work,” she said. “ We’re still treating people from World War II and Vietnam. It’s incredibly expensive and there is a lot of collateral damage — drug and alcohol abuse, inability to hold a job, homelessness, suicide, fractured homes. All of this drains on the resources of society. It’s a huge problem and it’s just getting bigger.”

She thinks the current medical definition of PTSD fails to cover the full range of dissociative symptoms veterans suffer. It also does not address psychological/spiritual symptoms such as deep shame, guilt and rage that can come out of combat experiences. PTSD is defined as an “anxiety disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association and used by Veterans Administration doctors to diagnose returning soldiers. “There is increasing reference in national and international reference to broadening the PTSD definition to encompass the dissociative aspects of post-traumatic stress,” Fletcher said.

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Old 08-23-2013, 02:20 AM   #6
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Changing attitudes on repressing combat trauma while deployed...

Downrange, no longer suffering the code of silence
August 22, 2013 > PTSD’s prevalence changes attitudes on repressing combat trauma while deployed
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Editor's Note: In this occasional series, Stars and Stripes examines the mental health of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and how they cope with war’s internal burden while deployed. Stories will explore the work of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and chaplains to reduce the combat-related stress of troops; the efforts of senior officers to balance the needs of soldiers with the demands of the U.S. mission; and the fear of asking for help that still exists within the Army. This series is produced with the support of a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.
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There was a time when Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hawkins showed concern toward fellow troops in a manner that more resembled a scolding. If his team, squad or platoon lost a soldier to serious injury, he offered words that pummeled rather than soothed. The PG-rated, expletive-deleted version went something like this: “Suck it up. You can’t stop going — you have to drive on. This is the way it is.” He cared but refused to coddle, a devotee of the Army’s tough-love philosophy that molded him. On a Friday morning a few weeks ago, three months into his sixth deployment, Hawkins confronted the same scenario in Afghanistan. He had learned that one of his men, Sgt. Luke Cifka, had stepped on an improvised explosive device in Logar province.


Spc. Travis Barrett, left, talks with Capt. Mickey Basham, chaplain of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, about an attack in Aghanistan's Logar province that seriously wounded a member of Barrett's platoon.

Hawkins, the leader of a scout platoon with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, called together his soldiers. They gathered in the narrow hallway of their plywood barracks at Forward Operating Base Shank. Most knew only that someone in the platoon of about two dozen had been wounded. He gave them the news with typical bluntness. “Cifka got hit by an IED,” Hawkins said, pausing to chop a hand against the middle of his thigh. “He’s lost both his legs from here down.” He went on that way for another minute or two as he detailed the attack and Cifka’s condition. Then, his tone softening, Hawkins turned more paternal, shifting his attention from the wounded soldier to those standing before him. “I want you to talk about this with each other,” he said. “I want you to talk about Cifka, talk about your times doing stuff with him. Keep a positive attitude because that’s what he would want. And remember: He’s alive, not dead.”

His open compassion suggested a changed perception of the internal ravages of war, and offered an example of a slowly rising sensitivity among senior officers to combat-related stress. “I still have some of the ‘suck it up’ mentality when it comes to day-to-day stuff,” said Hawkins, 35, of Boulder, Col., who has returned to Afghanistan 11 years after his first tour here. “But when you have big events like this — injuries to guys — it’s important that guys know they can talk. You don’t want them just staying in their rooms. That’s how they can wind up having problems.” The war in Afghanistan, nearing its 12th anniversary, and the eight-year war in Iraq that ended in 2011 illuminated the mental burden of combat across a generation of troops. A Veterans Affairs study last year found that almost one-third of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans treated at VA hospitals and clinics suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

More Downrange, no longer suffering the code of silence - News - Stripes
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:36 AM   #7
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Latest Medal of Honor recipient to focus on PTSD
August 26, 2013 WASHINGTON — Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter admitted to reporters that he was nervous.
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He had just received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama for his courage under fire, for running into an exposed battlefield time and time again to rescue a fallen friend during the deadly Battle of Kamdesh in 2009. He’s one of only eight men to receive the award for exemplary heroism in the Afghanistan War. And he’s nervous about carrying that honor. “I stand here proud to represent the (many troops) faced with the impossible on Oct. 3, 2009,” he said. “I’m nervous about living up to the responsibility of telling their story, with the honor and grace they deserve. I’m also nervous about representing the 1.3 million men and women who serve our nation in the Army uniform.”

On Monday, Obama lauded Carter as the finest example of the courage and sacrifice of the generation of troops who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. Carter, a 33-year-old father of three, was among 53 U.S. soldiers involved in the daylong battle. Eight men were killed in the fight, a brutal assault launched from surrounding mountainsides.

As enemy forces breached the walls of Combat Outpost Keating, Carter and his fellow soldiers scrambled to hold their ground and recover their fallen friends. Carter was singled out for the award for his efforts to save Spc. Stephan Mace, who was mortally wounded and stranded in the kill zone before Carter selflessly sprinted to his position. “I lost some of my hearing in that fight,” Carter said, “but I’ll hear the voice of Mace, and his pleas for help, for the rest of my life.”

Carter has spoken about the guilt he still feels for the men lost in the fight — Mace survived the battlefield, but died in surgery later that night. Obama tried to blunt that in his commendation of Carter. “Because you helped turn back that attack, soldiers are alive today,” the president said. “Because you had the urge to serve others at whatever cost, so many Army families could welcome home their own sons. And because of you, Stephan’s mother Vanessa … is able to say, ‘Ty brought Stephan to safety.’”

More Latest Medal of Honor recipient to focus on PTSD - U.S. - Stripes
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Honored as a hero, Ty Carter looks to shift the spotlight
August 25, 2013 > Humble hero uses Medal of Honor to raise awareness of the wounds of war
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Ty Carter sat on the back of his camper, parked near a gas station in the remote Oregon woods, with his two dogs asleep and his kids arguing and his wife feeding the baby, waiting for a phone call he didn’t really want to take. A colonel from the Pentagon had contacted him a week earlier, to ask whether he would be available that day for a call from a “high-ranking military official.” Carter said no. It would be in the middle of his family vacation — he had promised them a trip to Crater Lake. “He sounded kind of exasperated, so I could tell that was the wrong answer,” Carter said, laughing. He agreed to take a detour, to stay within cell-phone range a few hours longer.

When the call came, it was the commander-in-chief, who congratulated Carter on being chosen for the Medal of Honor. Sitting on the back bumper as the occasional car sped by, the soldier thanked him, traded stories about raising children, then got back in the car to continue the drive south. That’s how Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter learned he’d be recognized as one of America’s greatest heroes. Not from a lavish White House ceremony, which comes Monday. Not from a summons to the Pentagon, or even to his base commander’s office. From a cell-phone call at a remote gas station — actually, across the street from the gas station because folks there were worried about him loitering so he had to move the camper.

Monday, Carter will become the fifth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Afghanistan. Only 12 men from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been honored with the award, singled out for “conspicuous gallantry” and “selfless courage” on the battlefield. The common thread between the survivors’ stories has been their humility, even compared to the proud-without-boasting heroes of the past. All of them said they were just doing their job, that any other servicemember would have done the same, that they aren’t inherently different than any other American who joined the military. “I am an American soldier, just like thousands who have served, will serve and are continuing to serve this great nation,” he said at a news conference at his home base of Joint Base Lewis-McChord just days after the White House announcement. “This award is not mine alone.”

Carter, 33, has spent most of the last few weeks starkly recounting battlefield chaos to reporters while privately trying to explain what the battlefield was like to his 14-year-old son, Jayden. Madison, 8, was more interested in buying a new dress for the trip to Washington. With the Medal of Honor effectively making him undeployable — recipients have said Pentagon leaders are reluctant to send them back into harm’s way — he wants to continue his service in wounded warrior units, sharing his struggles with post-traumatic stress. He’s uncomfortable facing the families of the men who died fighting alongside him, freely admitting to a mix of guilt and post-traumatic stress whenever he speaks to them. “We all did what we could to keep each other alive,” he said.

The battlefield
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Old 06-01-2016, 06:06 AM   #8
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Hey, as long as it works...

Alternate PTSD Therapy for Vets Ruffles VA Feathers, but Shows Results
May 31, 2016 | Even before she left for Afghanistan, Katie Helmer knew she was going to have trouble when she got back. As a member of the Minnesota National Guard, she was assigned to monitor casualties at a military hospital at Bagram Airfield. From a previous deployment in Kuwait, Helmer knew the psychic toll the ordeal would take on her.
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When she came home in 2013, she jumped at the chance to get free treatment for post-traumatic stress through a pilot program for a therapy called EMDR, which uses sensory stimulation to connect to triggers from trauma and neutralizes them. After several sessions, she said it worked. "I've never been a therapy type of person, but it worked because it was a different kind of therapy, and I didn't have to do too much of the talking," Helmer said. Out of that pilot program emerged the Veteran Resilience Project, a Minnesota nonprofit that offers EMDR therapy -- which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing -- to vets, and says it is getting positive results.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing was developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD as a treatment for trauma-related disorders.

There is a rub: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the treatment is effective but not one of its top choices for addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In Minneapolis, in fact, the VA doesn't use it at all. The VA has no objection to the therapy, but it seldom will refer patients for treatment because the VA has the resources -- and pays for -- other therapies. So EMDR practitioners are joining a growing list of groups seeking to help veterans who say they often find themselves in a David vs. Goliath battle with the VA. And they have not been afraid to step up to make their point.

Building a nonprofit

The Veteran Resilience Project is the brainchild of Elaine Wynne, a Minnesota EMDR therapist. Wynne tried for six years to start an EMDR project focusing on veterans, but found the VA and the Defense Department resistant because of concerns that the treatment was not evidenced-based. Undaunted, she won a grant from a national EMDR program and set off on her own in 2013 to conduct a 20-month pilot project. Using 25 therapists to serve 30 veterans, she documented that 74 percent of the respondents after treatment no longer showed signs of PTSD and that 100 percent had significantly reduced symptoms. In 2015, Wynne took $10,000 she had left from the project and put it toward the newly formed nonprofit, with most of the money going to reimburse therapists for their work. Paul Riedner, an Iraq veteran with a penchant for social media and marketing, was brought on as executive director.

Since then Riedner, a former Army diver, has been directing outreach with podcasts and seeking funding through crowdsourcing and grant writing. He said his mission is particularly important since fewer than half of veterans use the VA, and most National Guard and Reserve troops do not receive VA services. Since January 2015, the project has treated 14 vets and now has a waiting list of more than a dozen. For now, the project can only treat vets with insurance or those who can self-pay. When vets who show up can't pay, they are monitored and put on a waiting list. While it is pursuing more grants, the project relies on private donations and fundraisers like a recent one through the VFW. The group hopes to secure funding for treatment throughout Minnesota, particularly for underserved veterans in rural areas.

Raising eyebrows
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Schools to Begin Monitoring Students from Military Families
May 31, 2016 — Schools across the country are preparing to formally track students from military families, monitoring their academic progress as they move from military base to military base and state to state, under a new provision in the federal education law.
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The change comes in response to concerns raised by the Department of Defense that the children of active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines have academic and emotional needs that schools are ill-equipped to meet. At Chula Vista's Veterans Elementary School, a new effort to support students from military families already is underway to help students like fifth-grader Victoria Ayekof. She had a rough start when she arrived last fall from a U.S. Navy base in Ghana where her father was stationed. Veterans Elementary is Victoria's fifth school in five years and in the beginning the adjustment was tough.

Her mother, Joyce Ayekof, said school staff reported her daughter was "always isolated and crying." "You have to adjust, but it's really hard to adjust," Victoria said. "You miss your old friends." Military children move an average of six to nine times before high school graduation, according to the Department of Defense, but repeating the social and academic upheaval doesn't necessarily make it easier. Having a parent away on military duty is a major stress on the family. Research has found military children who have a parent deployed are more frequently diagnosed with acute stress, depression and behavior problems than other children and that these mental health issues can affect learning.

California is home to the largest number of active-duty military in the country, according to the Council of State Governments. Half of the state's 60,000 military-connected students live in San Diego County, according to Kelly Frisch, regional school liaison officer for Navy Region Southwest. But even there, school districts don't always know which students are from military families or how to address the academic gaps and anxiety they are more likely to have, particularly in "outlier districts where there isn't a concentration of military-connected children," said Kate Wren Gavlak, chair of the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission, a national organization run by the Council of State Governments. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act — the new federal education law passed in December that takes effect in the 2017-18 school year — school-age children in military families will be assigned an identification number known as a "military student identifier" that will allow schools to keep tabs on test scores, graduation rates and other metrics.

Implementation details have yet to be announced by the U.S. Department of Education. The mental health risks for these students can be serious. A 2015 study co-authored by Ron Avi Astor, a professor at the University of Southern California, found that California students in military families were more likely to have attempted suicide than students from civilian families, based on the California Healthy Kids Survey given to 390,000 high school students in 2012 and 2013. Of students from military families, nearly 12 percent answered "yes" when asked if they had attempted suicide in the past 12 months, compared to 7 percent of students with civilian parents.

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Old 01-28-2017, 05:46 AM   #9
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How can a caregiver go about understanding PTSD in veterans?...

Help for Caretakers: Understanding PTSD in Veterans
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the invisible wounds of war often discussed in popular culture. But it's also a very real diagnosis. How can a caregiver go about understanding PTSD in veterans? What are the symptoms, and what can families do about PTSD?
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PsychArmor, a non-profit dedicated to bridging the military-civilian divide by providing resources to help community members and others engage veterans, has free video courses on a variety of military-related issues. This section of PsychArmor's Invisible Wounds of War at Home caretaker and family video series focuses on PTSD. In the first video, Heidi Kraft, a clinical psychologist, Navy veteran and PsychArmor's clinical director, helps caregivers and families answer the question "what is PTSD" while also discussing the stigma that still surrounds the problem.


An Army family walks hand-in-hand

Understanding PTSD in Veterans: What Are the Symptoms?

Next, Kraft looks at the symptoms of PTSD to help family members get a better understanding of PTSD in veterans. Among those symptoms, Kraft says, are avoidance, negative changes in moods, and symptoms of feeling "amped up, aggravated, anxious." Another symptom, she says, is inner conflict that can lead to depression. Kraft talks in detail about how each of the symptoms looks or might be experienced by veterans, complete with real-life examples of the ways she has seen the symptoms in her patients. She also discusses why the circumstances created by these symptoms can cause major life problems that veterans cannot handle without help.

Understanding PTSD in Veterans: What Can Families Do?

In this final installment on PTSD, Kraft talks about what families can do to help their veterans deal with PTSD. First, she says, families should know that any given veteran's symptoms are not the fault of his or her family members, but rather a part of a traumatic event. The PTSD patient is not actually angry at the family or the kids, Kraft says, he is simply displaying the symptoms of the disease. PTSD affects the whole family. But there is hope. In this video, Kraft details what families can do to understand and assist their veterans, starting with patience and understanding. There's nothing easy about taking care of someone with PTSD, she says, but there are resources to help in your journey toward understanding PTSD.

Help for Caretakers: Understanding PTSD in Veterans | Military.com
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