The Importance of PTSD Awareness Month

The Importance of PTSD Awareness Month

contributed by Melissa Lucas, Senior Staff Writer

The goal of PTSD Awareness Month is to “raise public awareness about issues related to PTSD, reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, and ensure that those suffering from the invisible wounds of war receive proper treatment.” S RES 481

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is psychological condition triggered by a traumatic event. Usually this trauma involves witnessing or experiencing the threat of injury or death. 

PTSD has been plaguing trauma victims forever. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the disorder became widely recognized. That is when the term “shell shock” was used to describe the psychiatric symptoms often experienced by veterans of World War I. 

In the years since, terms describing these symptoms have evolved. In 1980, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became an officially recognized diagnosis within the medical community. 

History of PTSD Awareness Month 

In 2010 Senator Kent Conrad advocated for an official PTSD Awareness Day. This was in response to the suicide of Staff Sergeant Joe Biel in 2007. Not long after, Biel’s birthday (June 27th), was selected as the official PTSD Awareness Day.

In 2014, the Senate passed Resolution 481, which officially declared June as National PTSD Awareness Month

A Few PTSD Statistics

Nearly 20% of those who experience a trauma will develop PTSD. At this time, it is estimated that 7 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disorder. Since many PTSD sufferers do not seek professional help, it is likely that the actual numbers are significantly higher.

What Causes PTSD?

During a traumatic experience, the sympathetic nervous system releases adrenaline and other stress hormones. These hormones make it easier to fight or flee. Pupils dilate, resulting in improved visual acuity. Heart rate increases, flooding the circulatory system with additional oxygen. Blood flow is directed towards large muscles, providing a few moments of extra strength and speed.

Once the threat passes, a separate set of hormones is released that return everything to normal. Senses dull, heart rate slows, blood is again directed towards internal organs.  

PTSD symptoms develop when stress hormones remain present for longer than normal. In this case, the body is unable to return to baseline. Human physiology is simply not equipped to withstand a heighted level of arousal for long periods of time.

So given the exact same trauma, what causes one person develop PTSD while another does not? At this time, the specific mechanism that prevents some people from “coming down” is not clearly understood. However, it seems likely that there are several physiological factors at play. 

Scientists continue research to determine who is at greatest risk of PTSD. Extensions of these findings may eventually aid in the creation of both PTSD treatment as well as interventions which prevent or reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms before they occur.

Examples of Trauma that Can Lead to PTSD

The official PTSD definition can be a little misleading with its reference to the threat of injury or death. This is because the way a person perceives a traumatic situation determines whether they are at risk for developing PTSD. Meaning, it doesn’t matter whether a person’s life was actually at risk. It matters whether they believe it was. 

Any and all types of trauma have the potential to cause PTSD, but several types of trauma are more likely to lead to a PTSD diagnosis than others. These include:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • War-related trauma
  • Unexpected death of a loved one
  • Life-threatening illness

PTSD Symptoms

The early signs of PTSD can be easy to miss. Learning how to help someone with PTSD, or even simply identify symptoms, begins with recognition. This is why PTSD Awareness Month is so vital to the mental health of veterans and civilians alike.

Symptoms of PTSD generally develop within three months of a traumatic event. There are several types of PTSD symptoms, most of which fall into one of four categories. 

Reliving the event 

This can come in many forms including flashbacks, repeated memories or nightmares, even adverse reactions to events which remind a person of their trauma. 

Avoidance 

Avoidance may mean general detachment, but often describes an inability to remember all or part of the traumatic event. It can also mean avoiding circumstances which elicit memories of the event itself. 

Alterations in arousal or reactivity

Someone who struggles with altered arousal might startle easily, find it difficult to concentrate, experience outbursts of anger, or remain hypervigilant at all times. 

Negative alterations in mood

Depressed mood and persistent guilt are common among PTSD sufferers. Mood alterations may result in social withdrawal and can have a negative impact on day-to-day functions.

Along with psychological symptoms, there are a few physical PTSD symptoms to be aware of as well:

  • Agitation 
  • Excitability
  • Dizziness 
  • Headache

PTSD Diagnosis

There are several factors involved in diagnosing PTSD. Criteria include the type of symptoms, how long they’ve been going on, and their overall impact. Only a doctor can provide an official diagnosis, so it’s important to discuss all PTSD symptoms with a healthcare professional. 

PTSD Treatment

Treatment is available, even for those who have been living with PTSD for years. Of course, the first step to treating PTSD is receiving an accurate diagnosis. 

Psychological Treatment

It is important that trauma survivors manage their feelings and emotional experiences. Counselling, psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) all have their place in an effective PTSD treatment plan. 

Chemical Treatment

Medications can be used to manage PTSD symptoms, too. Most fall into the category of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety prescription drugs. It’s important to note that every person responds differently to medications. Patience is key, as it can take a bit of trial and error to develop an effective drug protocol. 

Physical Treatment

It’s no secret that physical activity can improve the quality of life for those who live with a psychological disorder. Movement helps the body produce anti-depressant and anti-stress hormones. For this reason, physical activity is especially helpful for PTSD patients.

PTSD in Veterans

While the symptoms of PTSD in veterans don’t differ from those in civilians, military personnel are much more likely to develop PTSD in general. Veterans who were stationed in combat zones, were injured in the line of duty, or who had tours longer than one year are more likely to develop PTSD. 

By destigmatizing the disorder and bringing awareness to its symptoms, PTSD Awareness Month aims to ensure that our service men and women who suffer from PTSD have effective support systems and treatment options available.

PTSD Resources

If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering with PTSD, it is important to seek professional medical help. In addition, the following resources may be of value:

 

PTSD Service Dogs

It’s no surprise that dogs can soothe us when we feel troubled. But research shows bonding with dogs has positive benefits even on a biological level. Dogs elevate levels of the hormone oxytocin in our bodies, which promotes feelings of trust and well being. Oxytocin also heightens the ability to interpret facial expressions, helps one overcome paranoia and can have positive effects on social interactions.

A specially trained PTSD service dog can provide an extra sense of security and have a calming effect on veterans, help with episodes of depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as being loving companions. These dogs can sense a PTSD veteran’s mood and will know when it’s a difficult day for their veteran, sometimes before the veteran may even fully realize their own emotional state. Additionally, these service dogs are trained by qualified organizations to respond to a PTSD episode and help bring their humans back to a relaxed and coherent state. 

 

Experts agree that approximately 20% of veterans experience PTSD after their time serving on the front lines of the military no matter their branch of service. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined as a mental health condition triggered by a terrifyingly traumatic event – either witnessing it or experiencing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks and nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts related to the event…and those are just a few of the symptoms and challenges veterans surviving with PTSD face each and every day.

 

From the VA, “Veterans with substantial mobility limitations associated with a mental health disorder, PTSD,  for which a service dog has been identified as the optimal way to address the mobility impairment may be eligible for  veterinary health benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative. A diagnosis of substantial mobility limitation indicates that most common life and work activities (i.e., leaving the house, or getting to medical appointments, using public transportation, etc.) are impaired or prevented for the person more than half the time. Under the Mental Health Mobility Service Dog Initiative, this benefit has been offered for Veterans with a mental health condition. It provides comprehensive coverage for the canine’s health and wellness and any prescription medications necessary to enable the dog to perform its duties in service to the Veteran.” 

 

While the VA does not pay for the adoption or purchase of a trained service dog, there are many organizations whose mission is to help veterans obtain and learn to work with these canine companions. The VA, however, does provide, for qualifying veterans living with PTSD, a Veterinary Health Benefit and equipment for the working life of the trained PTSD service dog. This benefit is administered via the Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service at [email protected] and once a veteran is approved they are directed to an ADI-accredited agency to apply for a service dog. The VA does NOT pay for grooming, boarding, food or other routine expenses associated with dog ownership.

 

Among the many reputable and amazing organizations dedicated to helping match veterans with highly-skilled service dogs, including specialized PTSD service dogs, is K9s for Warriors. K9s for Warriors rescues and trains shelter dogs to be paired as service dogs for warriors with service-connected PostTraumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual Trauma.The goal of their work is helping to end veteran suicide and return our nation’s brave veterans to a life of independence and dignity. They are the nation’s largest provider of service dogs for disabled American veterans. To date, the organization has rescued over 1,000 shelter dogs and paired them with over 600 veterans in need. 

The non-profit organization provides PTSD service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to those participating in the  program in order to help restore their physical and emotional independence.  Their focus is on healing – helping the veteran and paired service dog build a bond to facilitate healing and recovery.  As the healing takes place, the reintegration to society begins. Warriors can return to their communities with a new “leash” on life as productive citizens who make a positive difference. After completing their three-week training program the veterans have gained the emotional means to repair their relationship with themselves, their families and their friends. 

Roughly 90% of their service dogs come from shelters or are owner-surrendered. Instead of a life of abandonment or euthanasia, they are given a new purpose.  With each graduate pair, K9’s for Warriors save two lives; they rescue the dog, and the dog rescues the warrior. 

Currently, K9’s for Warriors works exclusively with veterans disabled serving during or after 9/11/01. While the disability does not need to be combat related, applicants must have a verified, clinical diagnosis of PTSD, TBI, or MST to qualify for the program. At this time, K9s For Warriors does not provide Service Dogs to individuals who are legally blind or hearing impaired. They accept applications from all 50 states. Before being matched with their new PTSD service dog, applicants participate in a phone interview to assess their needs, discuss their lifestyle, work environment, personality and family. Veterans also must agree to a background check before acceptance into the program and meeting their dog. Experts working with the organization pair candidates with the service dog best suited for them. Veterans do not get to choose their dog nor supply their own dog to the K9s for Warriors for training.  

Once accepted, the training program takes 21 days to complete. Veterans travel to one of the organization’s two campuses in Florida for the duration of the training. Since this is a full immersion program, veterans stay and have their meals at the campus. During this three week period humans and canines learn to work together and bond to each other in order to effectively mitigate the precise needs of the veteran. 

 

PTSD service dogs can be specifically trained to calm their veteran when they are having a flashback or panic attack, use their bodies to prevent their veteran from feeling anxious and uncomfortable when out in society and alert them to sounds and lights that may go unnoticed when they are in the midst of an episode, like a smoke or house alarm.They can remind their veteran to take their medications, provide emotional support that may help lower instances of substance abuse and so much more. Many people, veterans living with PTSD, and otherwise find comfort in the unconditional love a dog provides and have an easier time allowing them to provide that comfort, companionship and assistance than with another person aiding them. 

For more information about the K9’s for Warriors organization,  visit https://www.k9sforwarriors.org/

 

 

 

MilitaryConnection.com Launches the Veteran Art Connection

MilitaryConnection.com Launches the Veteran Art Connection
For Immediate Release: February 14, 2019
Contact: Kris Galasso
[email protected]
 

  • VeteranArtConnection.com features an online gallery of work created exclusively by Veterans of our Armed Services suffering from PTSD
  • Online Gallery has pieces available for purchase
  • The Veteran artist gets 50% of the sales after production costs and the art therapy organization gets 10%
  • VeteranArtConnection.com turns art therapy into an entrepreneurial method for Veterans

 
MilitaryConnection.com is pleased to announce the launch of Veterans Art Connection, a joint partnership with Visions For Vets, that features an online gallery of art produced by America’s military heroes. The artwork, created by Veterans as a method of therapeutic release, will be featured and available for purchase in an online gallery.
 
Visions for Vets, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is a program designed by a Veteran for other Veterans that utilizes art therapy techniques as a treatment for PTSD, lifelong disabilities or any other issues that have been a result of a soldier’s military service. Prior to now, Visions for Vets has been a safe outlet for self-expression and a critical step in the healing process. Through this partnership with MilitaryConnection.com, Veterans are able to turn the results of their therapy into an entrepreneurial opportunity.
 
Art therapy has been proven to be an effective therapeutic method in the relief and reduction of tension and anxiety. In the instances of our retired servicemen and women, it also provides the opportunity for self-expression, healing and achievement of self-awareness. Many of these Veterans have been on disability and unable to work since leaving active duty. The Veteran Art Connection supplies these men and women with a unique opportunity to heal their invisible wounds through the power of art while establishing a possible revenue stream for their future.
 
MilitaryConnection.com is the “Go-To” site or the one-stop shop for Veterans, active military and their families. The site features a real-time job postings board with new employment opportunities for candidates across the country.In addition to the job postings board, MilitaryConnection.com is loaded with information that has proven helpful for active and retired military, military spouses, families, retirees and more. From writing a competitive resume and cover letter to preparing yourself for the interview; from finding a local place to get your free flu shot to picking an exercise that works best for you, MilitaryConnection.com has your needs covered.
 
MIlitaryConnection.com is the “Go-To” site for Veterans. With offices in Missouri, California and Maryland.

PTSD Project & Veterans CARE: VA Initiatives To Promote Employment

PTSD Project & Veterans CARE: VA Initiatives To Promote Employment
Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso
 
PTSD is arguably one of the most significant issues that our Veterans face when they are acclimating to civilian life. Unlike physical wounds which are visible to others, a soldier battles the mental wounds on his or her own. While there are many different forms of therapy available, the treatment is personal and not all therapy methods work for every person. As more research results become available, the additional needs required become increasingly apparent.
 
Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause Veterans to struggle, particularly when it comes to interviewing, getting a civilian position and maintaining a new career. That is where Veterans CARE comes into play.
 
Veterans Coordinated Approach to Recovery and Employment (Veterans CARE) is a $5.1 million Pay for Success initiative that is the result of a partnership between the US Department of Veterans Affairs, local governments, impact investors and Social Finance. The goal of this initiative is to support unemployed or underemployed Veterans with PTSD and assist them in attaining and maintaining employment that is both compatible with their skill set and competitive in their workforce.
 
The first Veterans CARE project will launch in New York City, Boston and Brockton, Massachusetts and Central/Western Massachusetts. It is anticipated that 480 Veterans will benefit from the programs in these areas. Recruitment has begun for this comprehensive “test study” in those areas.   
 
It is expected that local VA medical centers will be able to deliver Individual Placement and Support (IPS) to program participates through Veterans CARE. IPS is a personal approach, tailored to each Veteran, with the goal of supported employment. Veteran CARE plans to assist up to 500 Veterans over the three year period.
 
Funded primarily by project investors, government partners will repay investors when the positive outcomes as a result of the project are proven.
 
This is the first Pay-For-Service project of its kind in the United States. Veterans CARE focuses on improving the health and employment for Veterans. The ground-breaking project, the first to be multi-state, will work to achieve the goals of supporting under- and unemployed Veterans with PTSD in their journey to attain and maintain employment, improve the access to high-quality, evidence-based employment services, and to serve as the demonstration project for the use of the Pay-For-Success model and its successors.
 
For more information regarding Veterans CARE, visit the Social Finance website: http://socialfinance.org/focus-areas/workforce/veterans-care-project/

The Healing Power of Art

The Healing Power of Art

Contributed by Alan Rohlfing

Art as therapy. If you’ve seen it in action, you know the life-changing effects it can have on our Brothers & Sisters that struggle. For years, art has been shown to improve interpersonal skills, increase self-awareness, and boost self-esteem. Clinically speaking, this helps reduce tension and anxiety, which can relieve pain and set a strong foundation for the process of healing or coping with lifelong disabilities. It can also mean relief for PTS and other issues stemming from military service.

For at least one Veteran, the visual arts have long been a format for creative expression, often providing emotional healing, strength, and a sense of purpose. Scott Beaty, a 20-year Navy Submarine Veteran and the founder of Visions for Vets, a small non-profit in St. Louis, Missouri, discovered a way to provide Veteran assistance through teaching and creating art and building strong Veteran camaraderie. As his organization grew, he witnessed his Veteran art students find release from their burdens, express themselves emotionally through creativity, and realize freedom from society’s label of being “disabled.”

“We’ve found that once Veterans have gained confidence in their newly-found, rekindled, or enhanced art skills, they’re ready to serve all over again. Service is at the heart of Visions for Vets and we seek to help Veterans continue the mission through art, building important relationships in their communities and engaging in outreach to bring the power of the healing arts to those in need of peace and joy,” Beaty said.

There’s an emphasis on the power of the visual arts at the national level, as well. As part of the current Presidential Administration, Second Lady Karen Pence uses her national and international platform to shine the light on art therapy. The Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) have their own platforms in the Creative Forces Network and the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

The Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network serves the special needs of military patients and veterans who have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health conditions, as well as their families and caregivers, placing creative arts therapies at the core of patient-centered care at 11 military medical facilities across the country.

Made possible by a unique collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts, DoD, the VA, and state arts agencies, Creative Forces is a network of caring people who believe in the transformative and restorative powers of art. The network is made up of creative arts therapists, artists, doctors, military service members, veterans, community leaders and policymakers, helping make a difference on military bases, in hospitals, and at community art centers.

Nationally, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities use the creative arts as an effective rehabilitative therapy to help veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities by encouraging expression in a non-threatening way. Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in local creative arts competitions, culminating in the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.

The competition includes 51 categories in the visual arts division this year that range from oil painting to leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are 100 categories in the performing arts pertaining to all aspects of music, dance, drama and creative writing. Through a national judging process, first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. The Festival is co-sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. In addition to raising funds for the event, Auxiliary departments provide volunteers who assist with everything from punching meal tickets to stuffing programs to ironing costumes for the stage show.

 

Hedge Fund Billionaire Spends Millions on Mental Health Clinics for Veterans

Hedge Fund Billionaire Spends Millions on Mental Health Clinics for Veterans

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics treat veterans and their families for a variety of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, adjustment issues, anger and other concerns. The founder, hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen, now plans to expand the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) from 10 mental health clinics to 25 by 2020 for veterans and their family members.

“We’ve got a two-path approach — take care of today’s problems now and look for better answers in the future,” he said in brief remarks at the opening of the 3rd annual Cohen Veterans Care Summit at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center near the White House.

His clinics have treated 8,000 veterans and family members thus far, and “they tell us we’re making their lives better,” he said.

“Sadly, we’re now facing an epidemic of veterans suicides. We have to stop it in its tracks,” he added. “I want to do something about this.”

Cohen, who reportedly has an estimated net worth of $14 billion, founded CVN in 2015, two years after his firm, SAC Capital Advisors, agreed to pay $1.8 billion in fines and civil penalties to resolve a criminal indictment for insider trading.

It was the largest fine in history for insider trading, according to Preet Bharara, who was then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Cohen, who pledged $275 million of his own funds to found CVN, has assembled an impressive board of directors, which includes retired Adm. Mike Mullen and former Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

The Cohen Network and Cohen’s own spokesman insist they’re not trying to privatize the VA and their only goal is helping veterans. “No single private person in this country has ever donated more money to save veterans’ lives and treat their mental health needs than Steve Cohen has,” Cohen’s spokesman, Mark Herr, said.

Last year, Cohen set out to persuade Congress and the Trump administration to reimburse his clinics for veterans treated there.

From the beginning, the Cohen clinics were advertised as free to patients, but the plan was always to start seeking reimbursement for their treatment from insurance reimbursements, local philanthropy and government grants, according to information posted on the Cohen Network’s website.

Manes and Reins: A Gold Star Sister’s Journey to Healing

Manes and Reins:  A Gold Star Sister’s Journey to Healing

By guest contributor Renee Nickell

I had heard the term PTSD as it related to war heroes, but I did not know much about its impacts on civilians. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental affliction that can cause one to be hyper-vigilant, aggressive, easily angered, subjected to nightmares, depression, anxiety and more. After my brother, Major Samuel Griffith, was suddenly and tragically killed in Afghanistan, I did not even realize I, personally, had PTSD.

After several years of traditional therapy without much improvement, I decided to pursue equine therapy. With the assistance of trained therapists who help military and combat veterans and their families heal from the effects of PTSD, I was able to face my own level of PTSD after years of struggling.

Horses are capable of mirroring human emotion, allowing the patient to become more self-aware when feelings cannot easily be put into words. While I was skeptical in the beginning of therapy, the connection with the horse quickly brought comfort I hadn’t found anywhere else.  I must admit: I was absolutely terrified at the start of my journey. I did not know what to expect from the horses or the sessions, and for me, that was scary. Over time, the bond that is formed with your gentle giant increases your confidence and ability to face painful circumstances in far less time than traditional therapy.

Equine therapy is now being used to treat various forms of illness, disabilities and medical conditions to include diabetes, autism, blindness, epilepsy, addictions and more.  Horses do not have the ability to lie, therefore, the patient cannot manipulate the horse beyond its true feelings. This is extremely beneficial when building trust between the patient and the horse.

Gold Star siblings, in general, tend to place our grief on the back burner so that we may help support the surviving spouse or our parents through the grieving process.  While each member of the family deals with their own grief separately, a sibling often postpones their grief, sometimes for years. This delay is to the detriment of the sibling and the family unit around them.  PTSD can last for years, even decades. I have spoken to siblings whose brothers were killed in Vietnam and there is still a level of PTSD.

Not only did I suffer from PTSD, but my teenage daughter did as well.  The day my brother was killed, she stepped into my role. The trauma was debilitating for me and it was my daughter that helped take care of everything that day, including protecting her younger siblings from the impact of the news.  The weeks after, from retrieving his body at Dover to the funeral and then trying to resume somewhat of a normal life, was incredibly traumatic for all of us.

Our family is fortunate that we were able to find the necessary help to move us forward in our grief journey. Not only myself, but my veteran husband and my daughter benefited from equine therapy. We were able to heal as a family and face issues from the past that otherwise weren’t being addressed. We are not talking about playing with horses here! Equine therapy is a lot of hard work and deep soul searching. It can be quite painful to face the things we long to forget, even childhood traumas.  This is why it is so important to find a reputable equine therapist who is skilled in treating PTSD and other mental health disorders.

There are many organizations that are non-profit and will assist a veteran and family for free or low-cost.  Many even take Tricare insurance. If you or a loved one struggle with PTSD and feel you can benefit from equine therapy, I would recommend searching your area for licensed equine therapists.  We are now in a 17-year war with countless veterans suffering from PTSD, and there are many organizations that are ready and willing to help them recover to live as best a normal and peaceful life as possible.

Sam cockpit

(Major Samuel Griffith, USMC, was an F/A-18 aviator and Forward Air Controller.  

He was killed December 14, 2011, in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of OEF.)

Author Headshot

Renee Nickell is the author of “Always My Hero: The Road to Hope & Healing Following 

Her Brother’s Death in Afghanistan.” For more about Renee, go to www.reneenickell.com.

Eglin Air Force Base Opens First Invisible Wounds Center

Eglin Air Force Base Opens First Invisible Wounds Center

Eglin Air Force Base Opens First Invisible Wounds Center

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Eglin Air Force Base in Florida has opened the first Invisible Wounds Center, which will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries.

“Standing up this facility is just the first step of many in our commitment to care for our warriors with invisible wounds,” said Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg. “We owe these brave men and women the very best treatment possible.”

The center will treat retirees, Guard, Reserve, and active duty members from all branches.

Modeled after the Intrepid Spirit Centers, the Invisible Wounds Center will assemble a team of 18 specialties under one roof to provide treatment in an individually tailored, holistic and integrated fashion. Conventional and complementary therapies such as art and music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, physical and occupational therapy and mental health services will be included in treatment.

Following the opening of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) in 2010, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund began building Intrepid Spirit Centers to serve as satellite facilities to extend care to the home base of many of the troops suffering the effects of TBI and PTS. Seven centers are already completed and in operation: Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and Camp Pendleton, California. Additional Intrepid Spirit Centers are planned in Fort Carson, Colorado and Fort Bliss, Texas.

Arnold Fisher, honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, has confirmed that Eglin Air Force Base has also been selected to receive an Intrepid Spirit Center, which will be the first one at an Air Force installation. The facility has an expected completion date sometime in 2020.

Of Fisher, Hogg said, “Today the Air Force is forever grateful to him and all the donors who will make the Intrepid Spirit Center here a reality.”

PTSD: Treatment through Art

PTSD: Treatment through Art

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

A trend that has swept the country over the past three years might have more value than you think! Coloring books, once looked at as an entertainment medium for children, have expanded to a new market: adults in need of a break. Adult Coloring Books come in a variety of images – from intricate mandala designs to floral patterns and more. According to Psychology Today, Carl Jung used coloring as a therapy technique in his practices a century ago. His methods have matured and we now know even more about the human brain and the positive impact of simple coloring in the lines.

Though it may seem like a child’s activity, coloring actually increases our focus and intellectual acuity. Coloring can help simplify the process of problem solving. It can alleviate stress and help relax those with anxiety.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, utilizing art in treatment sessions for PTSD sufferers can help relieve much of the trauma surrounding the memories. Veterans are often able to express these dark and terrifying memories through imagery when verbalization of the time proves impossible.

Art therapy encourages veterans to “talk about it” without saying a word. Art therapy offers a means of expression and possibly even resolution for veterans who might find their reality unspeakable.

As with any traumatic event, the greatest success stories often belong to those who employ a multifaceted therapeutic approach. While art therapy might not be right for every veteran suffering from PTSD, many will find themselves benefiting from the art therapy relaxation techniques. Military personnel with PTSD who have used art therapy have reported a reduced level of anxiety, better control over mood disorders often associated with PTSD, a reduction in disruptive behaviors that prohibit daily functioning, an increased ability to verbalize and then resolve traumatic events and an overall increase in self esteem.

Any PTSD sufferer or treatment specialist will tell you that it is a complex disorder. The complexity of the disorder deserves a multifaceted approach and art therapy is proving to be a valid and successful method.

Knowing and Understanding PTSD

Kris Baydalla Galasso

Something terrifying happens to you. Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You can’t sleep. You don’t want to eat. You can’t get the events of that day out of your mind. Any and all of these are completely normal responses to trauma and would be expected of any one of us. We all experience traumatic life events at some point – so we are all familiar with these physical responses. However, for many of us, particularly our service men and women, the physical responses don’t go away with time. In many cases, they become worse.

For those of us living with PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the world is an unsafe and scary place. Danger lurks in every corner and we are often unable to trust and unwilling to explore. Many of us find ourselves giving up activities that we once enjoyed because the anxiety and fear keep us trapped in a dark and scary place.

PTSD is a reaction that stems from a trauma. The most common image that many of us call to mind is that of a combat soldier. Our soldier has been overseas, faced combat and is now facing a series of adjustment issues as he or she acclimates to life at home. One of the more common stereotypes that come to mind is a combat veteran having a reaction to fireworks. While yes, the noise of the seasonal display can absolutely trigger memories of traumatic events faced overseas, many veterans face far more commonplace challenges.

Inexplicable anger over seemingly insignificant events – such as road rage over traffic – can be indicative of PTSD. Refusal to attend events with large groups of people or discomfort in public can be another symptom. Flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance and awareness: all of these and more are the face of PTSD.

PTSD is a family diagnosis. While often just one person is diagnosed, it is the entire family that is impacted. While it may be difficult for a family member to understand the reactions of their loved one, knowing the diagnosis can help ease the transition and treatment process.

Do you or someone you know suffer from PTSD? You are not alone! 1 in 3 veterans suffer from PTSD and there are more resources and treatments available now than ever before. About Face: The National Center for PTSD (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/AboutFace/videos/topics.html?topic=2) is full of helpful information for servicemen and women, veterans and families.