Veteran’s Day is set aside to honor all vets, but they deserve to be honored every day. These men and women chose to serve and defend their country while putting themselves at great personal risk and making tremendous sacrifices.
Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress (PTSD). The effects of a single trauma can be devastating let alone the multiple traumas and intense stress of prolonged combat.
Many veterans don’t want to talk about their wartime experiences. If they choose to open up to anyone, it is often only to a fellow veteran because they often believe civilians will not understand. Over time, some vets deal with trauma and stress by self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol becoming increasingly isolated from family and friends and often times become homeless. More than 40,000 vets are homeless every night.
Anyone Can Develop Post-Traumatic Stress
First responders struggle with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for many of the same reasons as veterans. In both instances, their chosen professions expose them to violent situations that could result in their death or serious injury. However, traumatic events can happen to anyone at any time.
Post-traumatic stress is not a sign of weakness. Some people experience many traumas without developing crippling, life-changing symptoms. Others experience severe emotional and physical repercussions after one terrible event. No one knows why each person has a unique response to trauma. Post-traumatic stress strikes individuals without regard to age, race, gender or occupation.
A veteran may spend more than one tour in a combat zone and then one event, such as the death of a close buddy, will trigger the symptoms of PTS. A first responder with many years of experience might encounter violent and tragic situations every day until one event proves too much to deal with. Yet, is that really how it works?
In June 2018, the Pulaski County (Arkansas) Sheriff’s Office released a study of Cumulative PTSD Among First Responders.
The report defined several types of PTSD:
- Acute Stress Disorder: Appears within one month of the traumatic event; symptoms are short-lived and may not need treatment
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Symptoms last longer than thirty days
- Cumulative Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Results from a series of traumatic events and significantly affects someone’s mental health and well-being. At some point, symptoms appear. Although one particular event (e.g. the death of a buddy or an especially horrendous accident) may seem to be the trigger, Cumulative PTSD is caused by the totality of events.
The Silent Killer
Cumulative PTSD tends to hide, causing it to be known as the Silent Killer. People who have chosen extremely stressful professions often hold themselves to a higher standard. They may become adept at concealing the symptoms from those around them, perhaps fearing how others would regard them and how a diagnosis would impact the job. However, suppressing and compartmentalizing emotions works only so long before the weight becomes too much.
For many reasons, those suffering from Cumulative PTSD are likely to go untreated for extended periods. Yet these are the very people who need help the most. Veterans, by definition, are likely to be suffering from Cumulative PTSD. Although some of the symptoms are similar to those of anxiety (insomnia, fatigue, headaches, etc.), it’s important not to confuse the two. Cumulative PTSD is far more serious than simple anxiety. Receiving a proper diagnosis is important.
ART – Focused on Veterans
ART International Training and Research celebrates Veterans Day every day. ART’s mission is to support innovative research, train clinicians and educate both the general public and those suffering from post-traumatic stress on Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). While ART is a useful and effective treatment for anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress, it has proven to be particularly beneficial for veterans.
ART, in a nutshell, reprograms how traumatic memories are stored by the brain. The treatment has roots in other evidence-based modalities. Treatment incorporates visualization techniques and eye movements and clients are guided to replace traumatic memories and images with more peaceful ones.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy is particularly valuable for veterans and civilians alike because it works quickly. Most people experience relief in five sessions or less. This brevity makes the treatment viable for everyone who is unwilling to commit to a traditional, lengthy treatment program.
Contact ART International to learn more or to locate a clinician. Please contact us for additional information on how ART can help you or someone you know.