With Veteran’s Day coming up, many Veterans are being reminded of painful experiences after facing horrific images of war with current events happening today. How are we addressing their mental health and PTSD symptoms? I had a chance to interview Veteran trained, AccentCare mental health expert, Cheryl Cox, about what veteran patients and families can do to help the situation.
Why is it important to recognize the prevalence of PTSD in veterans?
It’s very important to recognize the prevalence of PTSD in veterans, most often this population will not talk about what happened during the war. They feel isolated. They feel we will not understand.
Some of them were ridiculed for fighting in certain wars, like Vietnam. They didn’t come home with a lot of fan fair. As a clinician, there are telltale signs when a client is starting to have some anxiety around PTSD. If you’re able to recognize these signs, you can most likely lessen the severity of the episode. As a Behavioral Health Nurse at AccentCare, we do several things: 1. Provide a safe place. 2. Interact with guided imagery, and 3. Sometimes just sit in silence with them.
How can it be challenging for veterans with PTSD to watch news coverage of current conflicts?
In our Texas office, one of our seasoned Behavioral Health Nurses is currently treating a patient who is dealing with feelings of dread and fear due to the current state of the world. He was in the Korean war, and he states this war is triggering his PTSD. He’s spending his days watching all the news programs. He’s very emotional, tearful, reminiscing about his time in the war. So, this is a very challenging time for patients who suffer from PTSD.
What are some ways that we can support veterans’ mental health?
The greatest way we can support our Veterans, not just suffering from PTSD, but overall issues of depression and anxiety, is to have better availability of resources. There’s a need for more clinician appointments. It’s very hard to get an appointment for services through the V.A. It can take between 6-8 weeks to get the first appointment.
With that difficulty to receive care, home health services have played a very important role in the support of veterans. As a Behavioral Health Nurse, we are able to come to where they are. Seeing patients in their homes provides a level of comfort, safety, and security. We touch base with them weekly, so we can catch changes, and prevent repeat hospitalizations. In my experience, having home health has helped veterans work through many obstacles, given them a sense of purpose, and feel that they have support from the community and loved ones.
Cheryl Cox, RN, AccentCare Regional Behavioral Health Manager
Cheryl has been working in the mental behavioral health field for over 12 years. She has been working in behavioral health with Veterans and other patients for AccentCare for almost 8 years. As a Nurse for over 30 years, she has enjoyed working in the healthcare industry and assisting those wanting to improve their mental health.