Toni L. Enemy Hunter
Psychiatric Rehabilitation/REHA 425
October 29, 2011
The United States is seeing an increasing number of Veterans coming back from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is affecting the lives of men and women, their family and those closest to them. The goal of this paper is to give some general information for women and their families experiencing PTSD. It will give symptoms and treatment options available to women veterans.
Women Vets and PTSD
According to the 2009 and 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 600,000 veterans aged 18 or older experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in the past 12 months. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is now becoming more prevalent with men and women in the military. How can the families of the veteran better understand what to expect and how to deal with their loved ones suffering from PTSD? Definition
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR; APA, 2000) the diagnostic criteria for PTSD include a history of exposure to a traumatic event meeting two criteria and symptoms from each of three symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms (Appendix 2). Challenges The British Medical Journal reported that veterans do not experience trauma or disabling symptoms until they return from the war (Gabriel & Neal, 2002). Friedman said PTSD symptoms appear when they return home trying to readjust to civilian life. When a person is on active duty in the military, if one does not have a physical injury then psychological symptoms are seen as a weakness and being a coward (Friedman, 2004). Those that did seek help found it difficult to be diagnosed because they were not exposed to direct combat (i.e. hostile fire, returning fire, or seeing others injured). The veterans that do have PTSD from military trauma are from non-combative events such as sexual trauma. They may feel alone and worry about their families. PTDS is comorbid with traumatic brain injuries and other psychiatric disorders such as depression, social phobia, panic disorder, substance abuse, and mood and anxiety disorders (Feczer, 2009). [W]e deny that war changes its participants forever-
…America claims innocence and goodness as fundamental
traits. We believe that our young men and women should
be able to go to war, get the job done, and return home blameless and well. (Tick, 2005)
The Readjustment Counseling Service is available for veterans who served in war zones, Vietnam Era Veterans, veterans that experienced sexual trauma while in the military, and for family members that have lost loved ones while on duty.
At a Veteran Center, the services that are provided are: individual counseling, group counseling, marital and family counseling, addiction counseling, benefits assistance and referral, employment referral and counseling, community education, liaison with VA facilities, referral to community agencies, contracts with area counselors and Mobile Vet Center Outreach. The client first has to go through assessments to figure out the best therapeutic approach. They need to be screened for victimization, suicidal potential, addictive behaviors, differential diagnosis, comorbidity, and family assessment (Meichenbaum, 1995). Medications, along with therapy, have been the most helpful types of treatment for PTSD. The medications used are antidepressant medications, anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizing medications, and other medications to ease nightmares, irritability, sleeplessness, depression, and anxiety (Feczer, 2009). It is...