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You’re Not Alone: A Mental Health Message for our Veterans

Veterans are 15x more likely to suffer from PTSD. If you have a service-related mental health issue, you’re not alone. Get help today.Our veterans and service members are some of the most brave men and women in our country. They’re passionate and disciplined when it comes to protecting and serving our country, which is a commitment we’re grateful for every day.

The invisible wounds of war

That bravery continues off duty as well — many carry the heavy weight of the sights and experiences they encountered while serving. Consider these statistics:

  • 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • A 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found PTSD to be 15 times more likely for veterans and service members compared to civilians. The same report found depression to occur 5 times more frequently among military members than civilians.
  • The same study from JAMA found 1 in 4 active duty military members suffer from a mental health condition.

PTSD, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual trauma (MST) and other mental health conditions can all occur as a result of military service. And, these health issues are every bit as serious as injuries we can see.

Healing these wounds

Our veterans and service members need access to quality mental health programs. They also need to know it’s okay to talk about their experiences. If someone you love may be suffering from a mental health issue, please check in with them regularly. Ask them how they’re doing and be ready to simply listen.

If you’re a veteran or service member suffering from any mental health symptom or condition, please reach out for help. Talk to a friend, family member or fellow veteran. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. You should never be embarrassed to get treatment for a mental health issue.

Honor our veterans and service members this Veterans Day by sharing this message with others. You can also help change the way the world sees mental health by taking the stigma-free pledge.

Do you want to learn more about the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program?

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Emory’s Veterans Program is Helping Heal the Invisible Wounds of War

military-familyEmory Healthcare launched Emory’s Veterans Program Sept. 1, a new program for veterans offering clinical care, research and education, focusing on comprehensive treatment for post-9/11 veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), anxiety, depression and conditions stemming from Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Comprised of several initiatives committed to the health and wellbeing of veterans, including Wounded Warrior Project’s newly established Warrior Care Network, Emory is one of four academic medical centers that make up the national network offering quality mental health care for post-9/11 veterans, at no cost to qualified individuals.

“Our program focuses on helping heal the invisible wounds of war, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury,” says Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, director of Emory’s Veterans Program and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

According to research conducted by RAND Corporation, about 18.5% of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans suffer from PTSD or depression, and 19.5% report having experienced a traumatic brain injury during deployment.

Emory’s Veterans Program is collaborative by design and incorporates top specialists in psychiatry, psychology, neurology, rehabilitative medicine and wellness into a treatment team that assess each veteran’s needs in order to develop a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan.

“It is important to be able to meet a veteran where he is, and provide individualized treatment plans using a collaborative approach,” says Rothbaum. “We’re so committed to this that we have hired veterans to fill critical positions within the program to ensure we are appropriately meeting the needs of the service members we treat.”

Treating victims of military sexual trauma is another aspect of Emory’s Veterans Program. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 20,000 service members, both male and female, endured military sexual trauma in 2014 alone, ranging from sexually hostile work environments to rape. Treatment often involves prolonged exposure therapy that incorporates virtual reality technology as well as other types of therapy and medications.

Collaborating with the Center for Deployment Psychology and several other organizations, Emory’s Veterans Program strives to enhance providers’ ability to deliver quality care to veterans. The program provides free, specialized training to community behavioral health providers in understanding military culture and how it plays a part in the treatment of service members.

For more information about Emory’s Veterans Program, visit www.emoryhealthcare.org/veterans. To reach the Care Coordinator, call 888-514-5345.