I have been really busy, in June 2017, I was elected Auxiliary President of VFW Post 5789 in Lee’s Summit, Mo. My passion is to help as many Veterans as possible. I am working very hard to do that as the Auxiliary President. I will keep posting. If you have any questions, Please, do not hesitate to contact me. God bless our Veterans!! You are our Hero’s!!

Advertisements

About Seeking Mental Health Treatment

  • For almost every mental health condition, there are a number of effective treatments that can help you cope with symptoms and greatly improve your quality of life.
  • You may need to work with your physician or mental health professional and to try different types of treatment before finding the one that’s best for you. VA specializes in providing care for Veterans, and it has clinicians who can help you find the right combination of care and treatment for your unique situation.
  • Most treatments can produce positive and meaningful changes in symptoms and quality of life after just a brief amount of time.
  • Treatment can help you understand your condition and change how you think about it, in part by identifying steps to improve your response to emotional triggers, stressful situations, and other challenges in your life.

Types of Treatment

The following types of treatment may be used independently or in combination:

  • Therapy or counseling can help you learn new ways of thinking, practice positive behaviors, and take active steps to move beyond your symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one type of counseling that research shows is effective for a number of different mental health challenges. Therapy or counseling may be one-on-one, in a group, with you and your family, or some combination of these approaches.
  • Medications work in different ways to manage the chemicals in your brain that may affect the way you feel.
  • Self-help approaches may be used to support other treatments and may include participating in 12-step meetings and using apps or other tools suggested by your treatment provider. VA has developed useful Web-based training tools and apps for Veterans, several of which can be found here: www.veterantraining.va.gov
  • Peer support services, in which Veterans who have experienced mental health challenges themselves provide support to fellow Veterans, can be a powerful resource during the journey of recovery.

VA’s Guide to Mental Health Services describes what happens when you request mental health services from VA, discusses the different settings in which treatment is delivered, and lists the treatments for specific conditions, as well as providing other helpful information.

When to Get Treatment

  • Whether you just returned from a deployment, were stateside during your whole time in service, or have been home for 40 years, it’s never too late to get treatment or support for the challenges you face. Even Veterans who didn’t realize they were dealing with a mental health condition for many years have improved their lives with treatment.
  • If you’ve just started experiencing symptoms — even if you aren’t even sure if anything is really wrong — reach out now. Receiving treatment as soon as possible may help prevent your symptoms from getting worse.

Factors That Can Affect Treatment

  • Some conditions occur alongside other mental or physical challenges, which may mask certain symptoms or make them worse. It’s helpful to have a full physical exam and mental health assessment for an accurate understanding of what’s going on.
  • Sometimes, alcohol or drug use can make mental health conditions worse and their treatments less effective. Reducing your alcohol or drug use may be an important step toward getting the full benefits of your treatment. There are VA and community treatment options available to help you decrease your alcohol or drug use, if needed.

Recovering from a mental health challenge is a process that involves hope, action, problem-solving, and tapping into or building up your support system — in addition to close guidance from a trained professional. In recent years, research from around the world has dramatically increased our understanding of mental health conditions and how to treat them, enabling the successful treatment and recovery every day of Veterans who experience these conditions. Our video gallery has hundreds of real stories from Veterans whose lives prove that treatment can work and recovery is possible.

What are flashbacks?

Do you sometimes feel as if you are reliving a past event? Does a noise, smell, or something you see seem to send you back to the scene of a traumatic event? Do bad feelings or strong emotions from another time come up unexpectedly and strongly, causing you to lose track of your surroundings? These may be signs of flashbacks.

A flashback occurs when you feel as if you are re-experiencing a traumatic event. You might remember everything about the event as if you were going through it again — vividly recalling the sights, sounds, smells, and other details. You might even have the same feelings or physical sensations that you had at the time of the event.

Some Veterans may experience flashbacks when they are in situations that are similar to a traumatic event from the past. For example, a combat Veteran may have flashbacks to his or her time in the military when war scenes are shown on TV or in a movie or when a car backfires. Other Veterans find that just experiencing the same feelings felt in the past reminds them of a traumatic event, even if the circumstances are not the same. For example, the stress of being in a car accident may trigger flashbacks to an assault.

“It didn’t take much to send my mind back there. Trash on the side of the road, large crowds of people, fireworks – a lot of things seemed to trigger flashbacks. Even though I knew it wasn’t real, it still felt like it throughout my body.”

Often a symptom of posttraumatic stress, flashbacks can interfere with your ability to enjoy life. They can be stressful or disturbing, and you may worry whether you’ll have flashbacks in certain situations or out in public. You may be concerned about what people will think, or try to avoid social events that might trigger flashbacks. They can also be a cause of alarm to your family and friends, especially if they don’t understand what’s happening or know about some of the difficult things you have experienced.

If I’m experiencing a flashback, what can I do about it right away?

A flashback can be a distressing experience for you as well as the people around you. Try to remember to:

  • Keep your eyes open, look around you, and notice where you are.
  • Remind yourself how this situation is different than the traumatic event.
  • Acknowledge how you are feeling.
  • Try grounding yourself by focusing on details of your surroundings or neutral physical sensations, such as the feeling of your feet on the floor.
  • Practice relaxation exercises, such as taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Concentrate on something good about your present life, such as your family or friends or the ability to do things that you enjoy.
  • Get up and move around, have a drink of water, or wash your hands.
  • Call someone you trust and tell him or her what is happening.
  • Remind yourself that your reaction is a common response after trauma.

Talking to your family and friends about what you’re feeling and experiencing can be a good first step. They may be able to provide support and help you deal with your flashbacks when they occur. You can also begin to let them know when certain things may trigger a flashback.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with proven resources and effective treatments for flashbacks. If flashbacks are affecting your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does.
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
  • A spiritual or religious adviser

Explore these resources for more information about flashbacks among Veterans.

Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to flashbacks, such as stress and anxiety, feeling on edge, posttraumatic stress, and effects of military sexual trauma.

National Center for PTSD
This website provides information, resources, and practical advice for Veterans, their family and friends, and the public when dealing with trauma.
www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp

AfterDeployment
This website has wellness resources for Veterans and Service members, including information and self-help tools for posttraumatic stress and other issues they commonly experience.
www.afterdeployment.dcoe.mil

Moving Forward: Overcoming Life’s Challenges
Moving Forward is a free online educational and life-coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you better handle life’s challenges. While it’s designed to be especially helpful for Veterans, Service members, and their families, Moving Forward teaches skills that can be useful to anyone with stressful problems.
www.veterantraining.va.gov/movingforward

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Flashbacks may be related to other health conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

What is feeling on edge?

Feel on edge in crowds? Overwhelmed by an unexplainable sense of panic? Do you find it hard to stop thinking about safety? Are you on a short fuse?

Feeling on edge is also called hypervigilance, a symptom experienced by some Veterans who have returned from war or experienced traumatic events during their time in the military. Hypervigilance is a state of being on very high alert — constantly “on guard” —  to possible risks or threats. It may be the result of an experience in a combat zone, a noncombat training exercise, or another type of traumatizing event in your military or civilian life.

“When I went out for dinner, I always wanted to have my back to the wall and be able to see the door from where I was sitting.”

Your military training taught you the importance of being observant and alert when you need to be. Hypervigilance goes beyond that — it can interfere with your ability to enjoy life or even just get through the day. Some people have trouble concentrating, feel irritable, become easily upset, or react strongly to sounds and sights around them. Other symptoms can include physical effects like a pounding heart, headache, or upset stomach.

Hypervigilance can also contribute to sleep problems or the avoidance of places that make you feel uncomfortable, like busy grocery stores, social gatherings, or sports events. It may also lead you to distrust other people or try to control their actions, putting a strain on your personal relationships.

If I’m feeling on edge, what can I do about it right away?

  • Breathe deeply.
  • If you’re with other people, tell them what you’re feeling so they can try to help you work through it.
  • Try grounding yourself by focusing on details of your surroundings or neutral physical sensations, such as the feeling of your feet on the floor.
  • Practice relaxation exercises, such as taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Get up and move around, have a drink of water, or wash your hands.
  • Calmly remove yourself from the situation.

Talking to your family and friends can be a first step — turn to them whenever you are ready. They may be able to provide support and help you find treatment that is right for you. You can also begin letting people know when certain places or activities make you uncomfortable.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with proven resources and effective treatments for dealing with symptoms like hypervigilance. If hypervigilance is affecting your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does. If you feel comfortable enough with your physician, he or she may be able to help you find tools to manage hypervigilance even without direct experience with Veterans.
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
  • A spiritual or religious adviser

Explore these resources for more information about Veterans feeling on edge.

Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to hypervigilance, such as social withdrawal, stress and anxiety, and posttraumatic stress.

National Center for PTSD
This website provides information, resources, and practical advice for Veterans, their family and friends, and the public when dealing with trauma.
www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp

AfterDeployment
This website has wellness resources for Veterans and Service members, including information and self-help tools for posttraumatic stress and other issues they commonly experience.
www.afterdeployment.dcoe.mil

Moving Forward: Overcoming Life’s Challenges
Moving Forward is a free online educational and life-coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you better handle life’s challenges. While it’s designed to be especially helpful for Veterans, Service members, and their families, Moving Forward teaches skills that can be useful to anyone with stressful problems.
www.veterantraining.va.gov/movingforward

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Hypervigilance may be related to other health conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

What should I know about experiencing the death of family or friends?

Losing a friend or loved one is always difficult and may sometimes be traumatic. Whether your best friend or spouse passes away after a long illness or you lose a battle buddy in combat, these losses are painful. There is no “right” way to respond to losing a friend or relative. Grief is an extremely personal response that is unique to you and the nature of your loss.

Some Veterans experience traumatic grief following the sudden death of a family member or friend or after witnessing multiple casualties, as in a military combat situation, natural disaster, or accident. You may have lost a friend in your unit, and you keep thinking about what you could have done to prevent it. Or maybe you are filled with anger at others who you feel caused the death. Perhaps you have lost a parent, your spouse, or someone who has been part of your life for a long time.

“I felt like it was time for me to move on after losing my best friend, but there was such an empty hole in my life. I didn’t see how I’d ever feel happy again.”

Grieving is a natural reaction to the loss of a loved one or friend, and a wide range of responses is common. You may experience any of the following:

  • Feeling numb and being distracted
  • Yearning for the person you lost or your old way of life
  • Being angry and irritable
  • Feeling very tired or having trouble sleeping
  • Distancing yourself from certain people or becoming much closer to others
  • Becoming more quiet than usual
  • Feeling like you aren’t the same person you were before your friend or loved one died
  • Questioning your faith or struggling with spiritual questions
  • Having conflicting emotions, such as feeling despair as well as relief
  • Wanting to end your life and join the person who died

What should I keep an eye out for after the loss of a friend or family member?

Grieving is a difficult time, but for most people life begins to improve again soon, maybe even after just a few weeks. However, some people experience grief that lasts for a very long time or in ways that make it difficult to carry on with normal life. If you can’t sleep for a long period of time or feel agitated, unsettled, or hopeless for more than a couple of weeks, you may want to reach out for help with the grieving process. If you have a chronic medical condition that has worsened because of the emotional and physical stress of grief, you should contact your doctor right away.

What can I do after losing a friend or family member?

Getting support from friends and family and making sure to eat right, get enough rest, and exercise are usually the best ways to take care of yourself for however long it takes to work through your grief.

“I didn’t leave the house for a week after my wife passed away. She’d been with me since I got back from combat and supported me through the worst of it. Talking to my pastor helped a lot, though. He reminded me that she wouldn’t have wanted me to come this far just to break down now.”

After the death of a family member or friend, try to remember to:

  • Take care of your health and eat well.
  • Let others help you.
  • Exercise to release stress.
  • Talk with friends, especially those who were close to the person or who understand the situation.
  • Speak with a spiritual or religious adviser or chaplain.
  • Focus on how the person lived, not how he or she passed away.
  • Express how you feel.
  • Rest and get enough sleep.
  • Avoid quick fixes that you may think will help you cope, like drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or smoking cigarettes.

You shouldn’t feel the need to set a timetable for getting over your loss — but if your grief is making it hard to function for more than a week or two, you may want to reach out for support. Talking to close friends and loved ones about your feelings and concerns or joining a grief support group may help you feel more connected with other people and less lonely.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with proven resources, services, and support to address the issues impacting their lives. If the grief over loss of a friend or family member is interfering with your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, your daily activities, or your ability to do your job, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • A spiritual or religious adviser
  • A bereavement support group
  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does.
  • A mental health professional with experience in grief counseling
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.

Explore these resources to learn more about coping with the death of a family member or friend.

Learn about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to grief, such as trouble sleeping, social withdrawal, alcohol and drug problems, posttraumatic stress, and depression.

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

What is noise or light irritation?

Do you find yourself squinting at any light — even when it’s not very bright? Do loud noises cause you discomfort? Have you had headaches that make lights or sounds more painful to experience? These are all signs of noise or light irritation.

Light sensitivity, sometimes called photophobia, and noise sensitivity may make it difficult or painful to deal with even average lights or sounds. Light sensitivity can be related to sun glare, indoor fluorescent lights, or glare from a computer monitor. You may also have sound sensitivity to either loud or persistent noises around you. Sometimes, hypersensitivity to sound or light comes with headaches.

You may wonder why you have noise sensitivity or light sensitivity. Some Veterans experience these symptoms because of whiplash-related injuries from combat or accidents in military or civilian life. Veterans who have experienced possible traumatic brain injury may also have hypersensitivity to sound or light. Someone might also be easily startled by sidden noises after they have been through a traumatic experience. Certain eye conditions can also cause problems with glare or light sensitivity.

“Sometimes the lights in stores can give me an immediate headache. My eyes will sometimes hurt after turning on a light or going outside in the sunshine.”

Sensitivity to light and sound can interfere with your work and daily activities. Being unable to tolerate average levels of light or sound can make it difficult to go outside, participate in social events, or do your job. Sometimes noise or light irritation is related to other health conditions that should be addressed.

If I’m experiencing noise or light irritation, what can I do about it right away?

  • Learn what things trigger episodes of noise or light irritation so that you can avoid them.
  • Darken the room you’re in, or wear earplugs.
  • Make adjustments to computer and TV screens.
  • Take breaks away from settings that you find difficult due to light and noise.
  • Practice relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation.
  • Do your best to get the right amount of sleep.

Certain drugs or medications may cause vision or hearing problems. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking medication and want to know if it could be affecting your sensitivity to noise or light. You should never stop taking a prescription without first consulting a medical professional.

Talking to your family and friends can be a good first step. They may have already noticed that you have hearing or vision issues and might be able to provide support and help you find out what’s causing these sensitivities.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with useful resources and effective treatments for managing noise or light sensitivity. If sound or light sensitivity, hearing loss, or vision problems are affecting your health and well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does. If you feel comfortable enough with your physician, he or she may be able to help you find tools to manage noise and light irritation even without direct experience with Veterans.
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, who may be able to teach you new skills for coping with your sensitivity to light and sound
  • A medical specialist, such as an ophthalmologist (a physician who specializes in medical or surgical problems of the eyes) or an audiologist (a health care professional who specializes in hearing and balance problems)

Explore these resources for more information about Veterans experiencing noise and light irritation.

Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to noise or light irritation, such as problems with headaches, effects of traumatic brain injury, and posttraumatic stress.

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Noise or light irritation may be related to other health conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

What is chronic pain?

Do you have an injury that doesn’t seem to get better? Are you often irritable because of constant physical discomfort? Is it difficult to stand, walk, sit, or do everyday tasks? These can all be signs of chronic pain.

When a person experiences pain in one or more areas of the body, such as the neck, head, arm, or leg, for at least three to six months, it is considered chronic pain. The pain may be nagging or severe and often seems worse than short-term pain because of its prolonged duration. General wear and tear from aging, as well as different types of illnesses and injuries, can cause chronic pain.

Some Veterans have chronic pain from lasting effects of injuries that occurred in the military, such as a “phantom limb” after an amputation or back or spinal cord damage after an accident. Many times, injuries suffered in military training or during deployment may seem to have healed, but as you age, they can re-emerge and become a source of chronic pain. Often it is hard to figure out the source of long-term pain.

“In combat, I had no other option than to ‘suck up’ the pain and ‘drive on.’ But now that I’m back, it’s a relief to know there are ways for me to cope with it.”

Many people experience chronic pain at some point in their lives. Chronic pain can hinder or even prevent common, day-to-day activities like sitting, standing, and waiting in line. Many people who deal with chronic pain find the constant experience of pain and the restrictions it places on their daily activities makes them feel down or irritable. Some people become depressed or hopeless if they think the pain will never end or there is nothing they can do about it.

When it comes to chronic pain, you don’t have to just live with it. Depending on what’s causing the pain, there are various options for chronic pain treatment, such as:

  • Physical therapy to increase your level of pain-free activity
  • Therapy or counseling to change the way you relate to or cope with your pain
  • Relaxation and mindfulness techniques to manage the stress of chronic pain
  • In some cases, advanced medications or other treatments to reduce the level of severe pain

If I’m experiencing chronic pain, what can I do about it right away?

If you are experiencing chronic pain, there are a few things you can do to deal with your symptoms and improve your well-being:

  • Tell your doctor about it. He or she can help develop a treatment plan for you.
  • Educate yourself on your condition so you can decide on the best options for managing your pain.
  • Keep a “pain diary,” where you can record your progress with pain and how it affects your life.
  • Find ways to stay physically active, according to the recommendations of your doctor.

Your friends and family members have likely noticed that your chronic pain is affecting your life. Talking to them can be especially helpful as you look for the type of chronic pain treatment that is right for you.

Take the next step: Make the connection.

Every day, Veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with effective treatments for chronic pain management and resources. If chronic pain is affecting your well-being or getting in the way of your relationships, work, or daily activities, you may want to reach out for support. Consider connecting with:

  • Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does. If you feel comfortable enough with your physician, he or she may be able to help you find tools to manage chronic pain even without direct experience with Veterans.
  • A mental health professional, such as a therapist, who can provide you with effective ways to cope with your pain
  • Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans and has clinicians and programs dedicated to pain management and treatment.
  • A spiritual or religious adviser

Explore these resources for more information about chronic pain in Veterans.

Learn more about what you can do if you are experiencing specific concerns related to chronic pain, such as depression, posttraumatic stress, and alcohol or drug problems.

Vet Center
If you are a combat Veteran, you can bring your DD214 to your local Vet Center and speak with a counselor or therapist — many of whom are Veterans themselves — for free, without an appointment, and regardless of your enrollment status with VA. In addition, any Veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp

VA Medical Center Facility Locator
Chronic pain may be related to other health conditions that need attention. VA provides world-class health care to eligible Veterans. Most Veterans qualify for cost-free health care services, although some Veterans must pay modest copays for health care or prescriptions. Explore your eligibility for health care using VA’s Health Benefits Explorer tool and find out more about the treatment options available to you.
www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1