When veterans come back from war, they often bring painful experiences back home with them. While everyone recognizes the courage of a hero putting their life on the line for others, these same veterans often face even harsher challenges back at home, trying to adjust to life as a civilian. One common struggle for many military personnel is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition which has impacted almost 1 out of 5 recent U.S. veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)—it hits a shocking 71 percent of female officers in particular. That’s why in 2010, Congress declared PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th.
Though the official diagnosis of PTSD wasn’t recognized by the American Psychiatric Association until the 1980s, symptoms of this all-too-real condition were probably noted as far back as 2100 B.C., according to History. Despite this, veterans who are open about their experiences with PTSD have often been mocked, feared, or treated as outcasts. This stigmatization also impacts non-veteran PTSD patients, such as survivors of abuse, imprisonment, and sexual violence. The lack of comprehensive support for PTSD survivors has made many people afraid to speak out, recognize their own condition, or receive the help they need.
In Boston and the surrounding New England area, there are many ways for PTSD survivors to get assistance; there are also programs for friends, family, and others to lend their support. In honor of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th, here are some ways to help.
In the United States, an average of 22 veterans commits suicide every day, often due to PTSD or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Meanwhile, the streets of Massachusetts are flooded with over 50,000 stray dogs looking for both a purpose and a home. Operation Delta Dog is a Massachusetts organization aimed at solving both problems, by pairing veterans with homeless dogs that are adopted, trained, and certified. To keep their program running, Operation Delta Dog depends on individual donations. Give here.
Suicide is a high risk for those living with PTSD, and the Military Veteran Project is a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to preventing veteran suicide through new research and treatment solutions. To accomplish this, they have spearheaded creative fundraisers such as the #SaveAWarriorChallenge and the Float it Forward campaign. Join the Military Veteran Project as a proud supporter.
When a person with PTSD is in the midst of a personal crisis, sometimes they need to talk to someone who isn’t a friend or family member. That’s why the Veterans Crisis Line exists at 1-800-273-8255. It’s a free service that connects veterans in need to a real human responder through phone, chat, or text. If you have the necessary experience, compassion, and/or training to talk to someone when they need help, volunteer to become a responder today.
The PTSD Foundation of America not only wants to help those currently living with PTSD, but to also expand awareness among the general population. They offer many volunteer opportunities through their website. Get involved today.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a huge supply of resources and information about the causes, treatment, and history of PTSD. The VA also offers a numerous range of services to veterans with PTSD at about 300 community-based Vet Center locations. Learn more about all of the different services.
For those who learn better in a classroom setting, the Manchester Vet Center in Hooksett, New Hampshire, offers an annual crash course on both PTSD and TBIs, featuring a panel of veterans and health professionals discussing their experiences with the group. This year’s crash courses will take place on September 21st and 28th. RSVP your spot on their Facebook page.
PTSD Awareness Day is about recognizing both the veterans and civilians living with this trauma. Here’s how you can help.