Research shows PTSD has negative impact on family

Post-traumatic stress disorder can wreak havoc on every aspect of the lives of veterans.
According to “Partners of Veterans with PTSD: Research Findings,” an article the website of the Veterans Administration, this is especially true when it comes to family relationships. Alarmingly, these difficulties can, in turn, only make the PTSD worse.
“Research that has examined the effect of PTSD on intimate relationships reveals severe and pervasive negative effects on marital adjustment, general family functioning, and the mental health of partners,” the report states (http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/family/partners_of_vets_research_findings.asp). “These negative effects result in such problems as compromised parenting, family violence, divorce, sexual problems, aggression, and caregiver burden. “
Male veterans with PTSD are more likely to report marital or relationship problems, higher levels of parenting problems, and generally poorer family adjustment than veterans without PTSD.”
The report goes on to note that those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are less expressive with their partners and less willing to disclose information about themselves and their feelings.

Deutsch: Innere Leere, Niedergeschlagenheit, G...

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“Related to impaired relationship functioning, a high rate of separation and divorce exists in the veteran population. Approximately 38 percent of Vietnam veteran marriages failed within six months of the veteran’s return from Southeast Asia. The overall divorce rate among Vietnam veterans is significantly higher than for the general population, and rates of divorce are even higher for Veterans with PTSD. The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study found that both male and female veterans without PTSD tended to have longer-lasting relationships with their partners than their counterparts with PTSD.”
The article goes on to suggest that partners of veterans suffering from PTSD should seek to gain as much understanding of the condition their loved on faces as possible.

The Challenge of Successfully Applying for Veterans Benefits

The government’s helping hand can be a little slippery and hard to hold on to — especially for veterans.

For the last few months, NPR has featured an ongoing series called Back at Base, which chronicles the lives of American troops all around the world. A special part of that series, released just a few weeks ago, looks at the experience of veterans as they deal with healthcare concerns following their years of service.
Part 2 of that series is entitled “Without Help, Navigating Benefits Can Be Overwhelming for Veterans,” and it’s really helping a wider audience to understand just how difficult this well-meaning process really is.
They tell the story of Tom Nichols, a 29-year-old veteran of Indiana’s National Guard, who returned from Iraq a few years ago and has suffered from PTSD and addiction since.
Tom’s had trouble getting the help he needs. He tries applying for benefits, but the questions are tough and the application is long. Tom isn’t a doctor. He’s suffering. The idea that he can’t access the help he needs because the application itself is an obstruction seems acutely unfair, but for many, it is reality.
There is good news, though. The system is accessible to veterans like Tom. They might just need a little help.
“You never want to apply for benefits on your own,” a Veterans Services Officer tells NPR, “unless you have some experience with it.”
Too often, otherwise eligible veterans have their applications rejected because they tried to undertake the effort entirely alone. Others are eventually approved but only after significant delay.
This problem isn’t exclusive to veterans, actually. The elderly face similar application hurdles when trying to access government assistance for long-term care, as recently highlighted in News-Press.com, a spin-off of USA Today.
But in both these cases, professional help can make all the difference. In fact, NPR cites official data in reporting that veterans who seek assistance with their applications can receive double the benefits compared to those who don’t — and months or even years sooner.
Part of my practice is helping our nation’s heroes access the Veterans Benefits to which they are entitled under the law. The complex application process keeps too many people away from assistance that could make a radical difference in their lives.
If you have questions about your own eligibility for benefits, or if you need help with the applications, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. After all, you’ve served our country. Now, I welcome the opportunity to be of service to you.

Proposed Law Would Help In Battle Against Soldier Suicides

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A United States Senator from Ohio has introduced a measure that would make it easier for veterans to demonstrate they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now whether or not the Veterans Administration will ever get organized enough to provide the treatment these former service members need is an open question, and one best saved for another discussion.
For the present, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown’s Significant Event Tracker Act would itself be a significant event in the ongoing effort to reduce suicide among combat veterans.
The proposed law was itself suggested by a veteran who “began pushing for the change after struggling with his own issues from service in Afghanistan and after a close friend killed himself two years after returning home from war duty,” according to an announcement from Brown’s office.
“We’re hope this (bill) is something that can really make a difference, if done right,” C. Michael Fairman of Columbus was quoted as saying.
Fairman and a friend have started the nonprofit Summit for Soldiers, in which they climb the highest peaks in the United States and around the world to bring attention to the plight of those experiencing PSTD.
“Ohio’s Democratic U.S. senator says early documentation of military service incidents could help veterans later when they seek treatment,” the announcement stated. “Sen. Sherrod Brown is promoting legislation about creating records of exposure to events that could result in post-traumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injuries or other issues.
“What’s called the Significant Event Tracker Act would have unit commanders document incidents, with the Defense Department sending the information to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Having the information on record could help in making medical diagnoses later.”
Fairman has said that one of the best things about the proposed act is that it would cost very little to implement, using for the most part records that are already being kept.

Post-traumatic stress, sadly, isn’t exclusive to young soldiers

Although their numbers are sadly and rapidly dwindling, veterans of World War II, the Korean War and even of the War in Vietnam are increasingly coming to realize they suffered and are still suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“Who knew much about post-traumatic stress syndrome in 1945? The term didn’t enter the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses until 1980; effective treatments didn’t become widely available until the late 1990s.”

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year...

Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates from Post-traumatic stress disorder by country (per 100,000 inhabitants). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soldiers were discharged at the end of World War II with the simple expectation that, in spite of what they had seen and done, what they had experienced, they would just resume the lives they had before service to and sacrifice for their country intervened.
The prevailing medical advice … amounted to ‘put it all behind you,’ ” Span wrote.
“The John Wayne approach,” the article quoted Joan Cook, a Yale psychiatry professor and researcher with the National Center for PTSD, as saying. “Older vets believed in that. For many years, they hid their symptoms.”
“Because post-traumatic stress syndrome can trouble veterans’ physical health, their emotional lives and their relationships — here is also a connection to dementia, researchers are finding — the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans advocacy groups have made it their mission to inform service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan about their PTSD risk,” according to Span. “But older veterans tend to know less about the syndrome, even as it haunts many of them. Their generation had less experience with psychotherapy, which once carried a stigma. Even now, if they do seek help, they are likely to describe their problems as physical.”
“Because post-traumatic stress syndrome can trouble veterans’ physical health, their emotional lives and their relationships — here is also a connection to dementia, researchers are finding — the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans advocacy groups have made it their mission to inform service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan about their PTSD risk,” according to Span. “But older veterans tend to know less about the syndrome, even as it haunts many of them. Their generation had less experience with psychotherapy, which once carried a stigma. Even now, if they do seek help, they are likely to describe their problems as physical.
“Aging itself can exacerbate the syndrome, as the sheer number of Vietnam-era vets streaming into Veterans Affairs centers for treatment in recent years seems to demonstrate. As those men (it is primarily men) experience illness, disability and bereavement, the sense of vulnerability and loss of control that arose in combat can re-emerge. Nursing homes — people in uniform, intercoms, semi-authoritarian routines and schedules — can trigger old fears.”
There is some good news on this sad front.
“Yet even veterans who have suffered quietly for decades can benefit from the contemporary treatments offered by the VA.,” the article stated.
“We can help them out,” said Dr. Steven Thorp, a research psychologist at VA San Diego Healthcare, mentioning such options as relaxation and stress reduction training, cognitive processing therapy and exposure therapy.

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