In the heart of the military community, a conflict often remains unseen, yet its casualties are all too real. This is the battle against mental health disorders – the hidden wounds carried by our servicemen and women.

Among those who serve, mental health issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety are significantly higher than the civilian population. The stressors associated with military service, from the rigors of training to the horrors of combat, can leave indelible marks on the psyche. Yet, these struggles often remain silenced due to stigma and misunderstanding.

PTSD, for instance, is a significant concern among veterans. The trauma of war can trigger this condition, leading to flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Depression, too, is widespread among active duty personnel and veterans, often co-existing with PTSD. These conditions can affect individuals, their families, and communities.

The effects of PTSD are far-reaching for those affected by it. It can cause intense emotional distress, manifesting in various ways, such as irritability, anger outbursts, or even violent behavior. Those who have PTSD may also experience difficulties forming relationships – both romantic and platonic – due to fear of abandonment or rejection caused by trust issues related to their trauma. In addition, they may struggle with concentration problems or insomnia due to intrusive thoughts about the event(s). These issues all make everyday life more difficult for someone with this condition.

The military has recognized the need to address PTSD among veterans and has implemented programs to provide support. But the stigma surrounding mental health in the military still exists, and many veterans hesitate to seek help. That’s why it’s essential to continue to raise awareness about the condition and encourage veterans to seek treatment. 

Therapy is often recommended as an effective treatment for PTSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is beneficial in addressing the symptoms associated with this condition, such as intrusive thoughts, hyperarousal, avoidance behaviors, and negative beliefs about oneself or the world around them. During CBT sessions, individuals will learn how to process their trauma to reduce distress and increase coping skills when confronted by triggers related to their trauma history. Other forms of talk therapy, such as acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), and narrative exposure therapy (NET), have also proven useful in helping people manage their PTSD symptoms more effectively over time.

Despite these challenges, there’s a growing recognition within the military establishment of the importance of mental health. Initiatives are being implemented to encourage servicemen and women to seek help without fear of judgment or career repercussions. Programs focused on resilience training, peer support networks, and mental health awareness are becoming more prevalent.

Ensuring access to quality mental health care for all servicemen and women, regardless of where they are stationed, must be a priority. We must invest in research to better understand the unique mental health challenges military personnel face and develop effective treatments.

Remember that not all wounds are visible as we continue to honor and support our military. The mental health of our servicemen and women is as vital as their physical well-being. It’s time to bring the hidden battle against mental health disorders into the light, offering our unwavering support to those fighting on this often overlooked front.

This is a call to action for us all. Let’s make mental health a topic of conversation in our homes, workplaces, and communities. Let’s ensure our military men and women know they are not alone in their struggles and that help is available. After all, no soldier should ever have to face a battle alone.

Want to know more? Check this book: “Combat Vet Don’t Mean Crazy: Veteran Mental Health in Post-Military Life.”