5 Ways Veterans Can Support PTSD Treatment
Veterans recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cannot expect to heal overnight. It takes time and strength through a gradual, day-to-day process. Aside from standard counseling and treatment, there are other steps veterans can take to help themselves return to shape.
1. Count on fellow veterans. It might seem obvious to some, but next-to-impossible to others, but reaching out to other men and women who have experienced PTSD from their time in service can help. Sometimes pride or embarrassment can stand in the way of asking for help, but your brothers and sisters in arms know exactly what you are feeling and can be the best resource you have. Having an extended community of PTSD survivors around you can give you a secure environment for getting through your toughest days.
2. Continue your education with your VA benefits. Enrolling in a degree or certificate program can keep your mind occupied on something other than your past experiences and make you feel productive. Veterans who have successfully coped with PTSD have found that working through an educational challenge was beneficial to their recovery. The VA provides several programs to veterans to help with their education, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill and the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP).
3. Volunteer or Return to Work. Volunteering your time with a local organization, serving other veterans, youth, or elderly people in your community can give you a sense of purpose. Focusing on tasks at work and feeling a sense of achievement can also keep your mind occupied with positive thoughts.
4. Exercise to help your body and mind. Exercising has been shown to benefit people mentally as well as physically. Aside from increasing strength and releasing physical tension, exercise can provide relaxation, improve self-esteem and generate feelings of control over one's life.
5. Talk, talk, talk. PTSD can be one of the loneliest experiences in your life. Know that you are not alone and open up to those in your social network. Isolating yourself will only make you feel worse. Spend time talking with friends, family, work colleagues and others around you. You don't have to talk about your PTSD or painful memories. Talk about any topic, small or large, to stay connected with those around you.
Overcoming PTSD is a challenge to be sure. But you are a warrior, trained to be strong and face challenges head-on. This one is no different. Reach out to family, friends, and fellow veterans to get through each day, and find something bigger than yourself to focus on. It will get better.