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 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:


Substance Use Disorders Among Military Veterans

Substance Use Disorders Among Military Veterans

Contributed by Rosemary Williams, Silvermist Recovery

Substance abuse is a significant problem among U.S. military veterans. According to a study published in the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, veterans are more likely to use alcohol and report heavy alcohol use than their non-veteran counterparts.1

The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that alcohol abuse is the most widespread problem among soldiers and veterans. Additionally, prescription drug misuse is on the rise among veterans, with opioids being prescribed at increasing rates for chronic pain.

A number of services and interventions are available through the military to help veterans recover from a substance use disorder. These include VA Medical Centers around the nation, although veterans must be connected to a center to receive help. Many private rehab facilities offer specialized services aimed at veterans and address a range of issues faced by members of the military today.

The stigma of addiction impacts our service members, with active service military members and veterans being reluctant to admit to a substance abuse problem. Fear of what others will think and denial that there’s a problem are other common reasons why veterans may decline to get help for an addiction.


The Scary Statistics of Drug Abuse and PTSD among our Veterans

75% of veterans who have experienced trauma from violence or abuse report problems with drinking and alcoholism.

33% of those who have lived through disasters, traumatic accidents, or serious illnesses report problems with drinking and alcohol abuse.

Alcoholism is more common among those who have chronic pain or continuing serious health problems due to traumatic experiences in their past or PTSD.

500,000 veterans with PTSD received treatment from the VA in 2011

27% of veterans who have received care from the VA for PTSD have a substance abuse disorder.

35% of veterans with an SUD (substance use disorder) also suffer from co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder.

20% of Veterans from our wars in the middle east suffer from PTSD.

Between 60% and 80% of Vietnam veterans have a problem with alcohol use.

Veterans age 65 or older who have PTSD are at an elevated risk for suicide if they also suffer from depression or have a problem with alcohol.

Soldiers, Addiction, and the Struggle for Help

Every year 20,000 soldiers are go to the Army’s substance abuse clinics they go there either because they’re sent by their commanders because they’ve had some kind of alcohol or drug-related problem or they go there because they simply need help at the clinics they get screened and assess to find out whether they have any kind of drug or alcohol related problems. Psychologist wanted to cure who just retired as the director of clinical services for the army program talks about what that program has to accomplish the mission of the clinical ASEP is to support army readiness through providing clinical services to the soldiers who are impaired with substance abuse issues after 14 years of war America’s soldiers can be suffering from any number of issues they can have post-traumatic stress disorder traumatic brain injury be having chronic pain with wounds or injuries and they may even have thoughts of suicide a nexus for these problems can be the abuse of alcohol or pain medication in terms of trends we see particular drugs becoming popular in some locations but the most abused drug is alcohol still and it’s been that way practically forever in the Army in 2010 the Army shifted his program for treatment of soldiers from the Surgeon General’s Office to the installation management command the people who run Garrison’s what followed after that was that they lost a lot of talented counselors and clinical directors and the quality of care suffered one result one a cure says if many of the soldiers should get help we’re missed last year over 7,000 soldiers were screamed and not enrolled that is considerably larger than the number of soldiers in the Brigade Combat Team so it’s it really is an issue of concern the consequences of leaving a soldier to languish and alcohol abuse or drug abuse can be tragic some of the soldiers that were screened and not enrolled have gone on to commit acts of violence and sometimes have killed themselves after that as well so while we can’t say that we could have saved folks we can say that we need to do a better job of treating them here explain as it is possible to fix this problem but it takes a collaborative effort it takes integrated services to help soldiers that can have a group of problems all happening at one time a lot of collaboration is required in treating substance abuse because many times there are numerous health factors that have to be addressed and the soldier has to be treated as a whole person and not just treating one part at one place I’m not even talking to other providers the mourn this story visit you

Veterans, Trauma and Addiction

Combat veterans have a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Each year, around 12 percent of veterans who served in the Gulf War, 20 percent who served in Iraq, and 30 percent who served in Vietnam develop PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.2

Additionally, 23 percent of female veterans reporting being the victim of a sexual assault while serving in the military. In general, half of women who are sexually assaulted will develop PTSD, which is a major risk factor for substance abuse and addiction. All told, up to 75 percent of veterans who have endured trauma from sexual assault or combat report problematic drinking problems.


In 2008, 22% of U.S. Officers in Afghanistan and Iraq suffered from PTSD or depression and only around half of them were treated. As a result, healthcare costs were $ 923 million. If everyone received quality treatment immediately, that cost would have been reduced to $ 785 million.

The link between trauma and addiction is well-established. A study in the journal Addictive Behaviors points out that about half of people in recovery from an addiction have a history of PTSD.3 One in six veterans have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the point it negatively impacts their daily lives. It’s common for people with PTSD to self-medicate symptoms with drugs or alcohol. Symptoms of PTSD may occur immediately after a trauma, or they may set in months or even years later.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • An inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Risk Factors that can lead to Veteran Addiction

There are certain risk factors identified that can indicate if a veteran is more like to struggle with a substance use disorder(SUD) in the future. PTSD is the most common risk factor, however other risk factors include:

  • Insomnia
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Relationship or problems at home
  • Isolation

While in the military, you work with a team during battle. During treatment, medical professionals become the team supports to address the mental health concern or substance use disorder.

Trauma-Informed Treatment

For veterans who have experienced trauma or have symptoms of PTSD, a trauma-informed treatment programoffers the best chances for successful recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.4 A trauma-informed approach to treatment seeks to increase a sense of safety.

The trauma informed approach recognizes that:

  • The impact of trauma is widespread and affects all areas of an individual’s life
  • There are many pathways to recovery, and a holistic approach is best
  • The current body of knowledge about trauma must be incorporated into policies, practices and procedures
  • Actively preventing re-traumatization is an important focus in treatment

Truama informed treatment draws on research-based, trauma-focused therapies that help individuals:

  • Accept their experiences rather than avoid them
  • Improve the way they interact with their thoughts and emotions
  • Develop tolerance for distress
  • Reduce suicidal thoughts
  • Achieve feelings of completeness and freedom
  • Develop control over thoughts, emotions and behaviors

Trauma-focused therapies include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and mindfulness-based meditation.

Medications Used in Treatment

In some cases, veterans may be prescribed medications to assist with the detox process or to help maintain sobriety. Medications frequently used during the detox process include:

Medications used to help maintain sobriety after detox include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram
  • Acamprosate

When Is It Time to Get Help?

Once alcohol or drug use becomes compulsive despite the problems it causes, professional help is recommended to end the addiction for the long-term. People who meet two or more of the following criteria are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, which may include heavy substance abuse, addiction, and/or dependence. 

Substance Use Disorder Categories

MILD: by meeting two to three of the following criteria

MODERATE: by meeting four or five criteria

SEVERE: by meeting six or more of the criteria.

  1. Using the substance in ways that puts you or others in dangerous situations
  2. Experiencing relationship problems related to the substance abuse
  3. Neglecting responsibilities at home, work or school because of your substance abuse
  4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using suddenly
  5. Needing increasingly larger doses to get the same effect
  6. Abusing drugs or alcohol for a longer period of time or in larger amounts than you intended
  7. Wanting or trying to cut down or quit but finding you can’t
  8. Spending a lot of time using or recovering from using drugs or alcohol
  9. Experiencing physical or mental health problems as a result of your substance abuse
  10. Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  11. Experiencing cravings for the substance

Once alcohol or drug use becomes compulsive despite the problems it causes, professional help is recommended to end the addiction for the long-term. People who meet two or more of the following criteria are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, which may include heavy substance abuse, addiction, and/or dependence. A substance use disorder is characterized as mild by meeting two to three of the following criteria, moderate by meeting four or five criteria, or severe by meeting six or more of the criteria.

What to Expect from Treatment

Getting help for an addiction can dramaticallyimprove your quality of life and sense of well-being. It may also save your life. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 6,000 veterans die by suicide each year.5 In 2016, the suicide rate for veterans was 26.1 per 100,000 individuals, compared with a rate of 17.4 per 100,000 among non-veterans.

Drug and alcohol abuse can increase the risk of suicide, and it can lead to a range of serious physical and mental health problems. Getting help reduces these risks and leads to a happier, more fulfilling life. A new military study shows that non-medical counseling offered through military resources resulted in improvement for more than three months after counseling ended.

Counseling is frequently offered through military organizations, however, you have the freedom to accept treatment at a civilian facility.12 For active service members, it is possible for your commander to find out about your treatment through insurance claims or referral requests. Commander involvement may be encouraged as the support of others during recovery can contribute to your success.

Rehab works for most people who choose a high-quality program and participate fully in their treatment plan.

Recovery starts with detox, which is followed by addiction treatment. When treatment is complete, an individualized aftercare plan helps you navigate the early weeks and months of solo recovery.


How to Find Help

Veterans and active-duty servicemen and women from all branches of the military can find help for a substance use disorder through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mental health services.6

Active-duty Army personnel can contact the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) for information and treatment resources.7

Active-duty Navy can find support, education and treatment resources through the Navy Alcohol Abuse Prevention (NAAP) program.8

The Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) program offers a substance abuse program for active-duty Marines.9

For active-duty Air Force personnel, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) program provides information and treatment resources for those needing help ending an addiction for good.10

Another healing resource for military personnel is a Strong Bonds retreat, which helps to increase resilience, reduce stressors and tighten family bonds. While Strong Bonds retreats don’t address or treat substance use disorders, they can reduce some of the factors that contribute to substance abuse and addiction.11 Retreats are available for singles, couples, and families.

Housing And Other Help

There are resources available to help veterans secure housing, employment, healthcare and other needs. An individualized treatment plan developed with a case manager should identify and connect you to helpful resources to resolve concerns beyond mental health or a substance use disorder. Some resources include:

HUD-VASH is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that connects veterans experiencing homelessness with housing resources to resolve the housing emergency via rent assistance. The program uses the Housing Choice Voucher Program to assist with the cost of re-housing veterans into rental units.

SSVF helps veterans secure permanent housing solutions with supportive assistance and case management.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services help with job training, employment, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching. There is also assistance avilable for veterans looking to start a business or independent living services for those unable to work.

Speak with a case manager about your individual needs to create a plan that will work for you.

VA and Vet Center facilities can be found online at and

Hope is the Foundation of Recovery

There are many pathways to recovery, but at its very foundation is hope, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Whether you’re a veteran struggling with a substance use disorder or a loved one trying to help your hero, holding on to hope for a better future guides your pathway forward. A high-quality, holistic treatment program is one pathway that’s research-based and proven to help people end a substance use disorder once and for all. Treatment really does work, and it can work for you.


This publication is provided by Silvermist Recovery.


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

  • 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%
  • turns art therapy into an entrepreneurial method for Veterans 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, 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. 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, 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, has your needs covered. is the “Go-To” site for Veterans. With offices in Missouri, California and Maryland.

The Move Away from Pharmaceuticals : Military Connection

Military Connection: medical

By Debbie Gregory.

It is becoming increasingly more wide spread for veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder to opt for alternative treatments, including medical marijuana.

The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that “PTSD has been found to be a risk factor” for suicidal thoughts, which are often triggered by combat-related guilt that “can often overpower the emotional coping capacities of veterans.”

No one collects data on the number of veterans participating in medical-marijuana programs in the states where it is legal. But many veterans say those who have served are turning to cannabis more and more to deal with the disabling symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and chronic physical pain.

But the federal government has sent mixed messages about its stance on the issue, with law enforcement opposing states’ programs and VA medical staff allowing participation. Medical experts disagree on whether the drug helps or hurts veterans.

Some academic studies suggest a link between medical marijuana and a reduction in suicide rates and PTSD symptoms. In 2013, the American Journal of Public Health reported that suicides among men ages 20-39 were reduced by an average of 10.8 percent in states that have legalized medical marijuana compared to states that have not. In addition, a 2014 study by New Mexico psychiatrist Dr. George Greer concluded that marijuana provided relief for PTSD symptoms in 75 percent of patients in a controlled study.

There are potential drawbacks to treating PTSD with cannabis. For example, an individual could build up a tolerance to the drug’s sleep-inducing effects, leading to increased use.

But for many veterans, the positives outweigh the negatives. Across the nation, veterans are urging the White House and Congress to legalize marijuana for veterans at the federal level. Michael Krawitz, executive director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access in Virginia, said veterans are “mercilessly being denied treatment” because they cannot access medical marijuana in all 50 states. “Veterans found cannabis long before states started passing these laws,” he said “By a long shot, it’s better than the drugs they get at the VA.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go-to site.

The Move Away from Pharmaceuticals : Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: DOD Awards $2 Million Grant for PTSD Research


By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has awarded a $2 million grant to RTI International, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.

The DOD grant will allow RTI International to lead the first randomized, controlled trials of a procedure to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms by injecting an anesthetic into the nerve tissue at the base of the patient’s neck. Initial research has found basis to believe that the procedure, called Stellate Ganglion Block, has the potential to relieve PTSD symptoms. The procedure is intended to block the sympathetic nerve system in order to relieve the physical stress that is associated with instances of PTSD symptoms. In other words, this procedure combats the “fight or flight” feeling that is associated with PTSD.

Stellate Ganglion Block has been in use for about 100 years, mostly for treating chronic pain of the limbs. Only in the last few years has the procedure been used as a treatment for PTSD symptoms. The use of Stellate Ganglion Block is not being proposed as a cure for PTSD; raher, a way to alleviate symptoms. The traumatic experiences that caused the disorder will not be erased from the PTSD sufferer’s mind. But the procedure will help relieve the anxiety that the memories of those traumatic experiences cause.

As part of RTI International’s three year study, three military hospitals were chosen: Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany; Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii; and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, in California. The three facilities were chosen because they had previously used Stellate Ganglion Block to treat PTSD, on a limited basis. The study will enroll 250 active duty service members who have been diagnosed with PTSD.

For the study, participants will receive two injections, two weeks apart. The injections will be followed by mental health assessments that will be conducted at weeks 4, 6 and 8. The assessments will include a qualitative component to gather impressions of the procedure from the patients, their families, behavioral therapists and psychiatrists. The study will also use a placebo control group that will receive injections of saline.

Unfortunately, PTSD is an affliction that is rampant in the military community. It has been estimated that as many as 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffer from the disorder. For the most part, prescribed treatments for PTSD included a lot of prescription drugs. The heavy use of drugs does little to treat the patient, and more often than not leads to other mental and physical health problems, including substance abuse of these very same prescribed drugs.

Proponents of Stellate Ganglion Block claim that the procedure is a low-risk injection that has very few negative side effects.

Our service members and Veterans deserve the very best treatment for whatever ails them. If any new procedure or method of care arises that could improve the lives of those who serve, then those procedures and methods should be given a chance.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Awards $2 Million Grant for PTSD Research: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: New Effective PTSD Treatment: By Debbie Gregory

SGB treatment

A 2012 survey by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) found that 500,000 Veterans, who were receiving VA healthcare, were diagnosed with varying levels of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That number makes up roughly 10% of the total Veteran population. Additional studies revealed that as many as 20% of Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Military, VA, and private sector doctors have been implementing a variety of treatments for the disorder and its symptoms. A treatment has yet to present itself as being the definitive cure for PTSD.

A decades old technique for applying anesthesia is currently being used to treat PTSD, with promising results. The therapy being used is called a Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), an injection of local anesthetic in the nerve tissue located on the front of the neck. The nerves are a part of the sympathetic nervous system, and are located in the neck, on either side of the voice box.

For nearly a century, SGB has been used to reduce pain and swelling associated with Herpes Zoster, commonly called shingles. A stellate ganglion block works by disrupting the sympathetic nerves that go to the arms and the face. SGB’s have also been found to manage color and swelling in the face and increase mobility in the neck arms and shoulders.

While the procedure is not widely accepted as a potential therapy for PTSD, SGB has been studied by physicians at Naval Medical Center San Diego as a potential PTSD treatment. The treatment was found to improve symptoms in patients who were not responding to other traditional treatments, including medication and psychological therapy.

So far, a reported 70% of Veteran PTSD patients have reported that SGB treatments have been an effective remedy for such symptoms as anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.

But physicians are reluctant to embrace SGB, perhaps because they don’t yet understand how a physical treatment could relieve what is categorized as a mental health disorder. PTSD remains a largely unexplained condition. While it is still characterized as a psychiatric disorder, ongoing research points to a close relationship between PTSD, concussion, head injury, or other physiological changes in the brain.

The current treatments for PTSD in use at VA facilities include medications, primarily Paxil and Zoloft, prolonged exposure therapy, and cognitive processing therapy. But medications commonly mask symptoms, and don’t treat the condition. Studies show that cognitive therapy treatments are effective in fewer than half of patients with combat-related PTSD.

If SGB treatments continue to be effective in treating PTSD and its symptoms, it may cause physicians to rethink everything they know about the disorder. This could eventually lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of PTSD for active military, Veterans and civilians.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go to site.

Military Connection: New Effective PTSD Treatment: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Veterans Turning to Yoga: By Debbie Gregory

yoga for veteransVeterans of all generations suffer from a broad spectrum of ailments, including arthritis, joint and muscle pain/stiffness, substance abuse, depression, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to the attempts to treat their conditions, Veterans are among the most medicated population in America. But not every Veteran is keen on the idea of taking pills. For that reason, many Veterans have been seeking alternative methods of treatment.

A surprisingly high number of Veterans have turned to yoga. Even more surprising is the number of Vietnam-era Veterans who are taking up the discipline, or at least trying it out.

Across the country, yoga instructors have been offering free classes for Veterans. Some instructors have reached out to local Veterans service organizations to form  partnerships. But there have also been several reports of local Veterans organizations recruiting instructors to come to their posts and clubs in order to provide yoga to Veterans.

While those who are unfamiliar with yoga may link it to Hindu or Buddhist practices, yoga has been a popular physical fitness regimen in the U.S. for about thirty years. Yoga is a low-impact exercise that still elevates the heart rate.

The obvious benefits of yoga as a regular exercise routine are increased flexibility, strength and range of motion, as well as relieving back pain and other muscle and joint pain.

But there are also other benefits that are not as easily gauged. The number of Veterans who have claimed that yoga has helped them with PTSD and other mental or emotional ailments cannot be ignored.

One of the root definitions of the word “yoga” is combining. People around the world believe that yoga is the practice or discipline of combining one’s mind and body. But when utilizing the poses just for physical fitness, yoga is the combining of stretches, poses, breathing control and concentration that give both your body and your brain a workout.

Maintaining any type of exercise routine has proven to keep people both physically and mentally fit. But running, lifting weights, and playing sports just isn’t an option for some people. Yoga is proving to be a great alternative for Veterans who may not be able to PT the way that they used to.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go to site.

Military Connection: Veterans Turning to Yoga: By Debbie Gregory