With Veterans Day occurring earlier in the week, people from all over the country were encouraged to remember the brave men and women of The United States of America and honor them for their service. This holiday often holds a special place in the hearts of many – especially those who have seen loved ones off to war, only hanging on to hope until they returned home safely.
While The United States still has soldiers active overseas, there are many new veterans who have come home and transitioned back into everyday life to the best of their abilities. However, now more than ever before, these very same heroes are struggling with issues including substance abuse, mental illness, and many times a combination of both.
According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, 20% of those men and women who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan come home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or major depression. It has also been reported by the Department of Veterans Affairs that 13,000 of those same veterans struggle with alcoholism, and that 7.1% of current veterans are battling a substance abuse disorder (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
There are undoubtedly a number of reasons why veterans are coming home to a life that is filled with new challenges, struggles, and upset. Standing on the front lines of war often leaves veterans psychologically scarred, as they have stared down death and sometimes even caused it. Losing friends and fellow soldiers left and right is incredibly devastating, and feeling as though their own life is in jeopardy every waking (and sleeping) second is enough to cause a form of stress like no other. Unfortunately, as these soldiers return home, they bring along these experiences and mental health issues and substance abuse can quickly follow.
It is no secret that the government has seemingly dropped the ball on provide well-rounded, affordable and accessible care to veterans throughout the country. However, that does not mean that treatment is not available for these brave individuals. If friends, families and veterans themselves are unsuccessful in preventing the development of a mental health issue, substance abuse problem or both, there are many things that can be done. This can include seeking out a therapist to help address underlying emotional issues, a psychiatrist to help provide the proper medication needed, and more.
If you are a veteran or know one in need, reach out for help immediately. It is never too late to get back on track.