June 27th is National #PTSD Screening Day

On June 27, 2022, the National Center for PTSD is launching National PTSD Screening Day, encouraging Veterans and others who’ve experienced trauma to start the conversation about recovery. Learning whether you have symptoms that might be PTSD is an important step to getting the treatment you deserve.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident or sexual assault. While most people experience trauma, not all of them develop PTSD.

After a trauma, it’s common to relive the traumatic event, avoid reminders of it, have more negative thoughts and feelings, or feel on edge or on the lookout for danger.

People who experience these symptoms longer than a month may have PTSD. While the only way to know for sure is to talk to a professional, like a primary care doctor or mental health care provider, there are self-screen questionnaires for PTSD.

What is a PTSD Screen?

A PTSD screen, or screening questionnaire, is a short set of questions. The screen helps you understand if your feelings and behaviors are related to PTSD. One screening questionnaire is the Primary Care PTSD Checklist, or PC-PTSD-5. The PC-PTSD-5 is only five questions. After confirming you experienced a serious trauma, it asks how that event may have affected the way you’ve felt or acted in the past month.

After taking the PC-PTSD-5, you add up your “yes” answers. If your score is three or more, you may have PTSD. The next step is to schedule an appointment to speak with a health care provider.

If you answered yes to one or two questions, and are bothered by your symptoms, you can still make an appointment. A health care provider can help you make a plan to manage the things that continue to bother you since the trauma.

Next Steps

While June 27th is PTSD Screening Day, the PTSD self-screen is always available, so you don’t need to wait. If the results of your screen suggest you may have PTSD, you’ll need to find a mental health care provider. There are Veteran-specific services at every VA Medical Center. And if you’re not sure how to start the conversation with a provider, you can tell them you completed a PTSD screen or take a copy with you.

Helpful Resources

If you’re not ready to reach out to a provider, there are resources that can help you learn more. The Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment booklet is a good place to start. You can also hear from Veterans who turned their lives around with PTSD treatment at AboutFace. The Veterans who share their stories on the site have been there.

Maybe you are concerned about a family member or friend. If you’ve noticed symptoms of PTSD or a change in behavior, you can encourage them to screen for PTSD or support them as they go through treatment for PTSD. The Understanding PTSD: A Guide for Family and Friends booklet may be helpful.

Friends & Family Can Be a Great Source of Comfort & Support

“Oftentimes family and friends will notice a change in a trauma survivor, and they can be a great source of comfort and support,”  says Dr. Paula Schnurr, executive director of the National Center for PTSD. “It’s very common for Veterans to enter treatment because of their family.”

No matter what type of trauma you experienced or when you experienced that trauma, treatment can help. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD, take the self-screen and reach out to a provider today.

As Army Veteran Penny Anderson notes, “Regardless of how you may have gotten PTSD, you have the ability to go and get help. And to do that, you’re going to set yourself free. You’re going to have the life that you deserve.”

Visit the National Center for PTSD’s website to learn more about PTSD treatment, PTSD Awareness Month, and PTSD Screening Day.

Check out the SITREPs Mental Health page for additional resources. Make The Connection also has information on PTSD for military and Veterans.

Additional Reading

How Does Trauma Affect LGBTQIA+ Communities?, Psych Central

PTSD: It Comes With the Territory If You’re LGBT, The Advocate

Trauma, Discrimination and PTSD Among LGBTQ+ People, National Center for PTSD

Trauma And The LGBTQ Community: An In-Depth Look, No Matter What Recovery

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)

LGBT+ Health Awareness Week: Advocacy

Did you know that the VA has a program for LGBT+ Veterans and that there are personnel at nearly all VA facilities nationwide that are tasked to help LGBT+ Veterans with care issues?

In 2016, the VA started addressing healthcare issues specific to LGBTQ+ Veterans by appointing LGBT Veteran Care Coordinators (VCCs) at VA facilities. VCCs are licensed clinicians responsible for promoting best practices for serving LGBTQ+ Veterans and connecting them to services such as:

Additionally, the VA has implemented policies and procedures for LGBT+ Veterans since 2017 with the following:

The VCC for VA Northern California Health Care System (NCHCS) that includes Auburn, Chico, Fairfield/Travis AFB, Martinez, Mather, McClellan, Oakland, Redding, Yuba City, and Yreka is Era Dearmon, LICSW/CMFSW, located at the Sacramento VA Medical Center at Mather, CA. She can be reached at (916) 407-9829 or Era.Dearmon@va.gov.

You can also find more information about the LGBT+ Program within NCHCS here. You can also find the VA’s National LGBT+ Program here.

Another great resource for LGBT+ Veterans is Make The Connection and its page on “Coming Out to Your Health Care Provider” where you can learn about the resources and support available for Veterans who have faced challenges related to coming out as a person with an LGBT+, or related identity. You can find the page here.

Do Ask, Do Tell – encourages patients to talk to their providers about their LGBT identity.

Fenway Health

Lastly, find out more about what the VA knows about providing care for LGBT+ Veterans with the following fact sheets:

The SITREP also has resource pages for LGBTQ+ & Transgender Veterans.

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