Five Ways You Can Support a Veteran Living With PTSD
MARCH 28, 2017 | 6-minute read
Family members and friends play a critical role in a Veteran’s life, especially during difficult times. Often, those who are closest to a Veteran may be the first to notice when something is wrong. If your loved one is living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), know that this condition can be treated, and you can help them get back on track.
Many spouses, partners, and family members of Veterans have helped their loved ones overcome challenges related to PTSD. Hear their stories of strength here.
Here are five ways you can support a Veteran who is living with PTSD.
1. Familiarize yourself with PTSD treatment options.
Two types of treatment have been shown to be effective for treating PTSD: counseling and medication. In recent years, researchers have dramatically increased our understanding of what causes PTSD and how to treat it. Familiarize yourself with what’s available so you can talk with your loved one about treatment options.
If you don’t know how to handle it, don’t just walk away.Renae, wife of Jon, a U.S. Army combat Veteran living with PTSD
2. Encourage your loved one to talk with other Veterans who have experienced trauma or mental health challenges.
Professional support from your local VA can include working with Peer Specialists and participating in counseling for family members or group therapy sessions. A Peer Specialist is a person with a mental health condition who has been trained and certified to help others overcome their mental health challenges.
Together, you and your loved one can use this tool to find both VA and community-based resources in your area.
3. Explore these resources for Veterans experiencing PTSD.
If the Veteran in your life is ready to take the next step in dealing with PTSD, finding a trained professional is a great idea. Support is available near you, whether you prefer to connect with a counselor, your local VA medical center or Vet Center, or a spiritual or religious advisor. Receiving treatment as soon as possible can keep symptoms from getting worse — and can shed new light on how to manage PTSD symptoms.
4. Reach out to Coaching into Care. It’s free and confidential.
Speaking with a loved one about treatment for PTSD can be a difficult conversation to start, but Coaching into Care can help. It’s a service that works with family members and friends to help Veterans get the mental health treatment they’ve earned. Reach out today at 1-888-823-7458, or find more information at http://www.mirecc.va.gov/coaching/.
5. Share self-help strategies.
Encourage Veterans in your life who have PTSD to work a few general self-care practices into their daily routine. There are many self-help tools available for managing PTSD symptoms, including these free VA resources:
- The easy-to-use PTSD Coach mobile app features information on treatment options, tools to help handle symptoms, and more. Download the app here.
PTSD Coach Online helps Veterans overcome challenges related to PTSD and take steps to achieve their goals. Find more information here.
As a spouse or loved one of a soldier, it takes a lot of backbone yourself.Tiffany, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and wife of Reagan, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran with PTSD
These five steps are a great place to start if a Veteran in your life is living with PTSD. Stand by their side and voice your support. The sooner Veterans reach out for mental health care, the sooner they can learn to cope with their symptoms and improve their lives.