Close to a third of the combat veterans who seek VA care are likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder. VA has had to significantly expand its mental health and counselling services. it has launched new programs, as well as numerous new VA Medical Centre based teams of mental health that are focused on identifying and managing disorders related to stress early, and the incorporation of close to 100 combat veterans into its readjustment Counselling service in order to provide briefings on needed military readjustments to service men and women who are transitioning.
Most of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported challenges related to stressors which have already been studied and identified in veterans who had participated in previous wars. World class expertise for treating Post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD or any other chronic mental health conditions have been developed by the VA.
Post-traumatic stress incorporates a known group of reactions to any kind of trauma including war. But, it becomes a disorder as time goes by if the issues or feelings associated with the trauma are not sorted out and they are suppressed by an individual. This can culminate into problems related to readjusting to community life after the trauma. Since the onset of the war, VA has been able to activate numerous PTSD programs all over the country to enable veterans deal with the emotional trauma of combat. Additionally, over 200 readjustment counselling or “vet centers” supplement the traditional VA centers of medical treatment.
One of the early scientific studies revealed that 18 % of the service related PTSD cases were reported in Iraq and a further 11 % in Afghanistan. Information from a variety of sources now show that between 10 and 15 % of soldiers show signs of PTSD following development to Iraq, with a further 10 % showing signs of PTSD, anxiety or depression making them vulnerable and in need of care. Abuse of alcohol along with relationship issues also contribute to these rates. The risk of suffering from psychiatric problems is greater in combat veterans compared to those operating from noncombat areas. The initial high rates are likely to decrease as access to VA health care is simplified and the introduction of health assessment programs prior to and after deployment.
Studies of patients suffering PTSD have suggested that up to half of the patients may show signs of complete remission while three quarters of the remainder are likely to improve. Research has resulted in the development of scientific treatment guidelines involving various modern therapies that clinicians have successfully applied. Treatments include psychological first aid and cognitive behavioral therapy.