Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects roughly 18% off all veterans. Of that 18%, 50% never seek treatment. This is a startling number. So, why are so many of our veterans hesitant to seek help? Americans have so much respect for our Veterans and the work they do to serve our country, but sadly, there is a disconnect between showing that respect and knowing how to engage and support our Veterans.
Our Military is not only willing go into the battlefield to protect our freedoms, but our Veterans experience situations of trauma, crisis, and moral conflict, sometimes on a daily basis that will forever change them. These are not feel-good experiences to share with a mother, a father, or a loved one. Unless you’ve been on the battlefield, these are experiences you cannot appreciate in their magnitude, and you will never hear them. Mothers and fathers, who are grateful to have them safely return home, quickly realize the son or daughter they knew never returned. Many Veterans are without important interactions, connections, or relationships to help them cope.
These men and women don’t want to be viewed as “crazy” or “dangerous”, so they will oftentimes hide their struggles. This reluctance stems from both external and internal stigmas surrounding what they’ve had to do and the real effects of PTSD. One of the things that often gets placed on the back burner is identifying the right emotional, behavioral, family and community support for our veterans once they come home. As a result, fighting for our freedoms, and as one Veterans stated, “Making sure all my guys got out of there alive” extracts a price on many marriages, family connections and relationships, friendships, sustained employment, and emotional stability.
Those veterans that do seek counseling for PTSD report that having a support network helped them realize they needed treatment. However, when left untreated PTSD has actually been shown to be one of the causes of homelessness in veterans. This could be due to many factors, but the lack of family relationships and positive, encouraging support systems is very much a prevalent cause.
There are thousands of men and women out there suffering in silence, and have likely destroyed every important relationship that is there to help them. They are without their brothers and sisters in arms, making it even more difficult to ask for help upon coming home, “Everything I touch falls apart. I do not know what to do.” Here at The Journey Home, we offer peer support and acceptance related to these issues, and link Veterans to mental health counseling when they are ready. Without judging, The Journey Home provides Veterans the interactions, connections and relationships they desperately need to recover.
Since our mission is to end veteran homelessness, we aim to help the whole person with whatever services they require so that they can stay off the streets for good. They fought for us, now it’s our time to fight for them.