Veterans are very strong individuals, but when dealing with mental health concerns, especially PTSD it is important to get support. After returning from service many veterans experience some form of mental health concerns. This may range from loss of identity to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may also struggle with substance abuse as a coping strategy to deal with some of their mental health concerns.
It’s not as simple as just changing your thoughts. Tessa Martin, Serenity Now Wellness director says, “Since many of the concerns that Veterans are experiencing are being experienced by both their mind and their body, the healing is so much more than just making you think differently.” As a provider for Veterans Affairs Canada, Martin is able to do assessments to understand the severity of the post-traumatic stress disorder as well as screen for concerns for depression, anxiety, stress, and addiction. Once the assessment is completed, they can work on learning grounding strategies to manage any invasive thoughts or feelings, teach relaxation strategies to manage anxiety and stress, as well as address any thoughts and feelings that may be arising in regards to any of the mental health concerns that are present.
Martin explains, “Veterans Canada is very dedicated to helping. Veterans have the ability to use their extended health benefits to be able to access services, often without the wait times.” For family members, it can also be helpful to seek support on how to deal with the person you love. There can be a lot of stress on those around the veterans who are struggling because often they are witnessing drastic changes in personality.
If you see a veteran on Remembrance Day, it is important to remember that the day can be filled with mixed emotions. They are remembering friends that they lost or contemplating the changes they have been experiencing since their service. Martin says, “Since Remembrance Day can be very difficult for many veterans, a simple “Thank you for your service” can be sufficient. Try to stay away from any conversations about what they saw while they were serving or if they killed anyone, as these can be very triggering conversations.
Here are useful links to the support Veterans can receive.