VA’s Afghanistan Series Shows How Veterans Can Get Help

Over the course of the month of August, the VA posted a four-part series of articles on the war in Afghanistan and the Veterans of that war. Below is a synopsis of each part.

If you are a Veteran of the war in Afghanistan or know someone who is, please let them know that there is help available. In any case, reach out to the Veterans in your life and check up on them.

Afghanistan, Part I: How Veterans Can Reconcile Service

Major news outlets for the past few months have focused on the drawdown of our nation’s longest war: Afghanistan.

At its peak, there were more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2010; the number of troops have steadily shrunk over the past decade. While news coverage debates the decision to cease combat operations, the highest-ranking enlisted service member in the military said Veterans from the war should remember the positive to help reconcile their service.

Click here to read the first part of this important four-part series.

Afghanistan, Part II: How Veterans Can Learn from Vietnam Veterans

The second part of this series focuses on how those who served in Afghanistan can learn from those who served in Vietnam.

While the conflicts are different, there are parallels.

Each operation had U.S. involvement for about two decades. Both countries had a low initial amount of forces. Both later had a surge in forces. U.S. forces in both theaters fought an enemy that hid among the people. The U.S. participation in the Vietnam War started ending in 1973 with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. The U.S. withdrew, leaving the country to determine a path ahead. In Afghanistan, the U.S. withdrawal will leave Afghans to determine their own future.

Click here to read part two.

Afghanistan, Part III: How Spouses, Caregivers Can Support Veterans with PTSD

The third part of this series focuses on spouses and caregivers, who are often on the front lines of helping a Veteran deal with posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

PTSD can alter a family’s relationships. Family member reactions can include sympathy, negative feelings, avoidance, depression, anger, guilt and health problems. Dr. Jennifer Vasterling, the chief of psychology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and affiliated investigator with the National Center for PTSD, said figuring out how to help a family member with PTSD can be hard to know how to best approach.

Read part three by clicking here.

Afghanistan, Part IV: Resources Available for PTSD

The last part of this series focuses on resources available for PTSD. While this series focused on Afghanistan Veterans, options apply to all Veterans.

There are several effective options to treat PTSD. According to Dr. Sonya Norman, director of the National Center for PTSD Consultation Program, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Choosing a treatment from the options that we know work well should take into account your doctor’s recommendations and your preferences. Knowing the different options allows a Veteran to choose a treatment that is the best fit for them.

Active duty and Veterans should not be ashamed of getting the help they need, said Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman Ramón “CZ” Colón-López. An Afghanistan Veteran himself who battled PTSD, Colón-López said seeking mental health help should be routine.

Click here to read the fourth and last article in this series.

(Cover Photo: Keith D. McGrew/US Army/Getty Images)