Returning from the War Zone
As more military service members return from Iraq and Afghanistan with pressing mental health needs, the Department of Veterans Affairs and others are stepping up to assist. With approximately 40 percent of the more than 300,000 returning veterans facing a possible mental health diagnosis, the demand for services is great—for veterans as well as their families.
Military personnel can now use two newly updated guides to help them and their families through the process of reuniting. Returning from the War Zone: A Guide for Military Personnel and Returning from the War Zone: A Guide for Families of Military Members were created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in collaboration with the Health and Human Development division of EDC.
“The guides offer practical, frontline help for service members and families to work through some problems they might encounter when service members return home,” says EDC’s Mary Kay Landon. Both publications are designed to provide guidance on how to approach the reintegration process, as well as how to differentiate common reactions to trauma from symptoms of PTSD.
Estimates of the rate of PTSD among returning veterans range from 12 to 20 percent. The suicide rate of Army troops is at the highest level since 1980. And there is increasing concern about rates of military sexual trauma and inequity of services provided to female veterans.
The guides address such questions as:
- What common reactions to returning from a war zone do service members and their families need to be aware of?
- How can service members and their families cope with these common reactions?
- What are the warning signs that service members might need some outside help?
- Where can they attain this help?
Updated to make them more accessible to diverse audiences, the 15-page guides have new photographs, informational sidebars, and personal narratives from both service and family members.
“It was a privilege to work with the Veterans Administration on such important pieces,” says Landon.