The Strength in Veterans Receiving Counseling
There are so many things that our nation’s service members put on the line or sacrifice for our freedom, including time with family and friends, the state of their mental and physical health, and even their lives.
Those who serve in the military experience unique challenges and circumstances, and there is often a vast disconnect between the lives of those who have served and those who haven’t.
“Only two percent of our entire population serves in the military, and that means 98% of the population has limited first-hand knowledge about that unique experience,” says Anna Goletz, director of Military Services at Centerstone.
Veterans and military service members experience common mental health challenges just like anyone else, including depression, anxiety, relationship issues, sense of loss, and grief. They also experience things unique to their service like adjustment challenges, moral injury (life or death situations often requiring you to perform your job regardless of your personal moral code), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to studies, less than 50 percent of veterans with mental health needs receive treatment. Further, some veterans and service members are met with barriers in seeking or receiving treatment due to cultural setbacks. Not being culturally competent in caring for veterans or those on active duty is detrimental to their treatment.
“If someone has no idea about military experience, it only pushes veterans further away by creating a barrier or disconnect to their care,” says Goletz.
There’s another cultural belief in the military about being strong and self-sufficient, but it’s important to know that it’s always okay to ask for help. Here are a couple of ways to keep other veterans and military members in your life informed:
- Reduce stigma. “It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is actually a sign of strength to say, ‘I’m not operating at my best capacity,’ and that is something veterans can associate with combat effectiveness,” says Goletz, “We should advocate for other veterans to make sure they are taking care of things by being their best self and working on their mental health.”
- Spread the word. While there are benefits available to veterans, understanding them and knowing how to access them often can be difficult. Take the time to find out what’s available to veterans. Share information with others about free services that are available, and make sure to check on our veterans. Assist your friends and family in getting the care they deserve.
- Do research. If you are a civilian, find the time to educate yourself, your friends, and your family who might not understand the struggles and challenges that military service members go through. Research or speak to veterans about their experiences and learn more about their culture in the military.
Centerstone’s Military Services are available nationally through a network of more than 1,200 providers across the country. We provide counseling and mental health treatment to any veteran, active duty service members, and military family members regardless of era served or discharge status. If you or someone you know is struggling with life after service, Centerstone can help. Call 1-877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) for more information.