Veterans who have once served in Afghanistan also grieve the loss of their fallen soldiers.
Some have taken the initiative to join or create groups in hopes to bring home American citizens who have been left behind. The mental toll this takes on an individual who has been through it themselves, can be extremely terrifying.
With lives being lost due to the political conflict in Afghanistan, the American people have no choice but to feel helpless. Families are mourning for their loved ones and praying for others, stranded and hiding from terrorists, to return home. The armed conflict in Afghanistan has not only wounded troops who are on active duty, but also the ones supporting from back home. Our veterans’ reaction to Afghanistan and the current conflicts have weighed heavy on their mental health and overall well-being.
What’s happening during the current crisis in Afghanistan can greatly affect the mental health of veterans here in the United States. Hearing these stories can cause service members to experience or develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health issues. Some symptoms of PTSD in veterans include flashbacks, memory problems, and aggression. During times like these, flashbacks can resurface, being very difficult to deal with. PTSD and substance abuse in veterans are also linked, as many service members turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. Veterans access to mental health services is also crucial to aid in their recovery.
Any lack of mental health services for veterans can lead to even more severe complications down the line. Veterans are highly prone to problems related to mental illness and/or substance abuse, which is why we need to do what we can to support them in any way possible. Some ways we can help include listening to what they are going through as well as seeking out treatment on their behalf.
Crisis can be mitigated when you know your triggers such as sleeping, nightmares, lack of appetite, hypervigilance, and substances. Some ways Banyan suggests coping with these times is to be mindful of your media consumption. If the news is making you feel a certain way, take breaks, and know that you can always return. Connect with others. Whether you want to talk about current affairs, family life, or more, reach out to someone during this time. You are not alone. Your service matters. You are appreciated.
Banyan Treatment Centers is taking extra precautions to ensure the patients currently in our VIR program are being properly supported during this time. Methods include, additional group sessions discussing the conflict in Afghanistan, therapeutic approaches targeting PTSD as well as information and education provided to families to help support our veterans during this time. With our communities being more aware and understanding of our veterans, a lasting road to recovery is more achievable.