Veterans and PTSD

PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a serious problem for veterans. Recent veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are affected by PTSD at the rate of 11-20%, and for Vietnam veterans, the estimates are even higher. As a result, research, treatment options, and social support services for PTSD have ballooned in recent decades. Yet, in spite of this progress, we have a long way to go in addressing the long-term effects of PTSD on the lives of veterans. 

Defining PTSD

Although PTSD is commonly associated with veterans who have been deployed and/or seen combat, it’s important to remember that anyone can be affected by PTSD. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines PTSD as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.” 

Outside of military contexts, PTSD is often linked to events such as sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and natural disasters. Individuals who suffer from PTSD will often experience flashbacks of the traumatic event, or, conversely, may have trouble remembering it. Other symptoms include being jumpy or easily startled,  changes in mood, and disrupted sleep.

Tracing the Effects of PTSD 

Aside from its immediate symptoms, PTSD can have deeper, lasting consequences for veterans. For example, research has shown that PTSD is a significant risk factor for homelessness among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Veterans with PTSD might also have difficulty returning to civilian life, and might experience troubled relationships with their partners and families. Alienation from their social support networks can put them at further risk of homelessness. Further, PTSD can compound existing mental health or substance abuse issues, both of which have also been linked to homelessness.

If you or someone you know has been affected by social isolation or veteran homelessness, we are here to help. National Veterans Homeless Support seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans in Central Florida. NVHS takes a proactive, intervention-based approach to homelessness by meeting homeless veterans where they are and helping them from there. Through programs like Search and Rescue Outreach, NVHS helps homeless veterans get the supplies they need to survive, connects them with support and resources, and helps them transition off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing. If you’re able, consider supporting our mission by donating or signing on as a volunteer.