VETERANS’ ISSUES Veterans Day November 11th
For information and assistance contact Bucks County Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs Director Dan Fraley 215-345-3307 Dept of Veterans’ Affairs is located at: Neshaminy Manor Center Building K Route 611 & Almshouse Rd. Doylestown, PA 18901 Dan Fraley – Director (215) 345-3307 Betty Carleo – Veteran’s Aide (215) 345-3885 http://www.buckscounty.org/government/departments/CommunityServices/MilitaryAffairs/index.aspx
video: Understanding PTSD http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/video/understanding-ptsd
Army official: Suicides in January ‘terrifying’
Army official: Suicides in January 2009 ‘terrifying’ WASHINGTON (CNN) — One week after the U.S. Army announced record suicide rates among its soldiers last year, the service is worried about a spike in possible suicides in the new year. The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone — six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday. The Army said it already has confirmed seven suicides, with 17 additional cases pending that it believes investigators will confirm as suicides for January. If those prove true, more soldiers will have killed themselves than died in combat last month. According to Pentagon statistics, there were 16 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq in January. “This is terrifying,” an Army official said. “We do not know what is going on.” full story
One In Five Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Suffer from PTSD or Major Depression
Nearly 20 percent of military service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan — 300,000 in all — report symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder or major depression, yet only slightly more than half have sought treatment, according to a new RAND Corporation study. In addition, researchers found about 19 percent of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while deployed, with 7 percent reporting both a probable brain injury and current PTSD or major depression. Many service members said they do not seek treatment for psychological illnesses because they fear it will harm their careers. But even among those who do seek help for PTSD or major depression, only about half receive treatment that researchers consider “minimally adequate” for their illnesses.
National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/index.jsp
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is post-traumatic stress disorder? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror. PTSD can result from personally experienced traumas (e.g., rape, war, natural disasters, abuse, serious accidents, and captivity) or from the witnessing or learning of a violent or tragic event. While it is common to experience a brief state of anxiety or depression after such occurrences, people with PTSD continually re-experience the traumatic event; avoid individuals, thoughts, or situations associated with the event; and have symptoms of excessive emotions. People with this disorder have these symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as they did before the traumatic event. PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of the traumatic experience; however, they sometimes occur months or even years later. How common is PTSD? Studies suggest that anywhere between 2 percent and 9 percent of the population has had some degree of PTSD. However, the likelihood of developing the disorder is greater when someone is exposed to multiple traumas or traumatic events early in life (or both), especially if the trauma is long term or repeated. More cases of this disorder are found among inner-city youths and people who have recently emigrated from troubled countries. And women seem to develop PTSD more often than men. Veterans are perhaps the people most often associated with PTSD, or what was once referred to as “shell shock” or “battle fatigue.” The Anxiety Disorders Association of America notes that an estimated 15 percent to 30 percent of the 3.5 million men and women who served in Vietnam have suffered from PTSD. What are the symptoms of PTSD? Although the symptoms for individuals with PTSD can vary considerably, they generally fall into three categories:
Re-experience – Individuals with PTSD often experience recurrent and intrusive recollections of and/or nightmares about the stressful event. Some may experience flashbacks, hallucinations, or other vivid feelings of the event happening again. Others experience great psychological or physiological distress when certain things (objects, situations, etc.) remind them of the event.
Avoidance – Many with PTSD will persistently avoid things that remind them of the traumatic event. This can result in avoiding everything from thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the incident to activities, places, or people that cause them to recall the event. In others there may be a general lack of responsiveness signaled by an inability to recall aspects of the trauma, a decreased interest in formerly important activities, a feeling of detachment from others, a limited range of emotion, and/or feelings of hopelessness about the future.
Increased arousal– Symptoms in this area may include difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, becoming very alert or watchful, and/or jumpiness or being easily startled.
It is important to note that those with PTSD often use alcohol or other drugs in an attempt to self-medicate. Individuals with this disorder may also be at an increased risk for suicide. How is PTSD treated? There are a variety of treatments for PTSD, and individuals respond to treatments differently. PTSD often can be treated effectively with psychotherapy or medication or both. Behavior therapy focuses on learning relaxation and coping techniques. This therapy often increases the patient’s exposure to a feared situation as a way of making him or her gradually less sensitive to it. Cognitive therapy is therapy that helps people with PTSD take a close look at their thought patterns and learn to do less negative and nonproductive thinking. Group therapy helps for many people with PTSD by having them get to know others who have had similar situations and learning that their fears and feelings are not uncommon. Medication is often used along with psychotherapy. Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications may help lessen symptoms of PTSD such as sleep problems (insomnia or nightmares), depression, and edginess. Reviewed by Jack Gorman, MD May 2003
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder than can develop after a person witnesses a traumatic event. A traumatic event can take many forms, including a natural disaster, sexual abuse, or a terrorist attack such as 9/11, but for veterans, PTSD is most often related to combat or military exposure.In wars prior to Vietnam, the disorder was referred to as “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” and was not very well understood beyond the fact that it limited the soldier’s performance on the battlefield. Nowadays the disorder is more widely studied. We know, for example, that PTSD can lead to other mental health problems, such as depression, social withdrawal, and substance abuse.The effects can also be long-term. According to the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder , 1 in 3 people who develop PTSD will always have some symptoms. The good news is that more resources and treatments are available. Some treatments, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), are new and emerging. Others, such as Virtual Iraq, an exposure therapy-type video game, are still in development. Our PTSD section for veterans includes resources where you can find out more about PTSD, learn about treatments, and read about how PTSD affects families and children of veterans.
Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK SAMHSA July 28, 2008
The Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), has provided immediate, often life-saving, help to tens of thousands of veterans and their loved ones during the year since its inception. Over 22,000 calls have come directly from veterans, with the remainder coming from others seeking help for veterans who are family members or friends. The hotline was launched last summer as a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to meet the special needs of veterans who are in personal crisis. The hotline has proven to be a particularly valuable resource not only for veterans at risk of suicide, but also for family members and friends who are trying to help them. Indeed, many of the calls into the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline over the past year have been from family members and friends who are concerned about the welfare of a veteran they love. “The Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline has been very helpful in providing veterans in crisis and their loved ones with more immediate access to the specialized help they need,” said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. The Veterans Suicide Prevention hotline service provides national, around-the-clock access to crisis counseling and behavioral health services for all veterans and their families in emotional distress or suicidal crisis. Veterans seeking help, or family members or other loved ones concerned about a veteran in distress, can access immediate help by calling 1-800-273-TALK. They will hear a voice prompt saying, “If you are a U.S. military veteran or if you are calling about a veteran, please press ‘1’ now.” By selecting this option, the caller is automatically connected to a VA-operated call center in Canandaigua, NY, staffed by specially trained professional crisis workers. Among the specialized services provided by the veterans hotline is the capability of connecting the veteran to his or her local VA Suicide Prevention Coordinator for priority follow-up and monitoring to assure that the veteran receives ongoing care at the local VA Medical Center. In some cases, when the call volume exceeds the capacity of the Canandaigua center, calls are automatically routed to one of five back-up crisis centers within SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This lifeline currently provides help to more than 42,000 calls each month through a network of more than 130 certified crisis centers. Depending on their needs, callers are linked to local emergency, mental health, or social services. All calls are free and confidential. Further information about SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline can be accessed at: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. SAMHSA is a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity and effectiveness of the nation’s substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment and mental health services delivery systems
About PTSD Fact sheet and other resources related to PTSD from NAMI.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Real Illness 11/08/2007 An easy-to-read booklet on post-traumatic stress disorder created by the National Institute on Mental Health. It explains what PTSD is, when it starts, how long it lasts, and how to get help. There is also a self-test.
Sidran Traumatic Stress Institute 11/08/2007 Baltimore-based institute offers information online about PTSD, geographic lists of therapists with experience treating people with PTSD, and books, articles, and referrals to support groups. There is also a free help desk service for locating trauma resources in your area.
What is PTSD? 11/08/2007 Fact sheet from the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD), an educational resource for veterans, mental health practitioners, researchers, and the general public.
Virtual Iraq 11/08/2007 Defense Update magazine’s Web site describes a treatment currently in development for PTSD called Virtual Iraq, an exposure therapy treatment using virtual simulation of events in Iraq.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing 11/08/2007 The Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Institute offers information on EMDR, a new and emerging treatment for PTSD. NAMI recommends reviewing this option with a psychiatrist who is familiar with it before proceeding.
For Families and Children
NCPTSD Fact Sheet for Children 11/08/2007 A fact sheet prepared by the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD) discusses the common problems experienced by children of veterans with PTSD.
NCPTSD Fact Sheet for Partners of Veterans 11/08/2007 The National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD) offers a fact sheet for partners of veterans with PTSD.
July 9, 2008 Commissioners, Military Affairs Office Announce Bucks County Chosen As One Of 39 US Veterans Center Sites The Board of Bucks County Commissioners, James F. Cawley, Chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, are proud to join Chief Operating Officer David M. Sanko and Military Affairs Director Dan Fraley in announcing that Bucks County has been chosen as one of 39 counties nationwide that will be opening a Vet Center in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Vet Center which will be fully operational at a Bucks County location, as yet to be determined, by the end of December, 2009, will provide quality outreach and readjustment counseling to all combat veterans. Site selection is based on analysis of demographic date from the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), projection of the veteran population by county, and by input from seven RCS Regional Offices. “We look forward to working hand in hand with the Veterans Center to continue providing quality outreach services for the brave men and women of our armed services,” Chairman Cawley said. “This announcement represents another way that we can help those returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the globe.” According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, some of the main criteria for the new Vet Center site selection are the veteran population, area veteran market penetration by Vet Centers, geographical proximity to VA Medical Centers, and number of Community Based Outreach Clinics in the Vet Center’s Veterans Service Area (VSA). Of the 39 new Vet Center sites, only two are in Pennsylvania – Bucks and Montgomery counties. The additional resources provided by the Vet Centers will address the growing need for readjustment counseling/services to existing and new combat veterans and their families to include families of those killed while on active duty.
Veterans Forum Find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet people who’ve been there.
NAMI Veterans’ Resource Center
Bucks and Montco to get vet centers
Sites to bring services, support closer to combat veterans.
Bucks and Montgomery counties are in line for new vet centers designed to help soldiers readjust to civilian life after serving in war zones. The centers, operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and designed to be low-key and approachable, offer mental health counseling and other support services to combat veterans and their families.