Understanding Veterans and PTSD2024-07-02T15:25:11-04:00

Understanding Veterans and PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious and pervasive issue among veterans and can affect and disrupt their way of life. According to the VA, veterans are more likely than civilians to experience PTSD in their lifetimes. Veterans who deployed are more likely to experience PTSD compared to those who did not. Additionally, it states that PTSD varies by service era. For instance, those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have a 29% chance of experiencing PTSD in their lives.

Meanwhile, those who served in Vietnam have shown 10% will experience PTSD at some point in their life. This widespread condition has prompted extensive research and continues to be studied. A variety of treatment options, as well as enhanced social support services, are offered to veterans in need. Despite these advancements, significant challenges remain in addressing the long-term effects of PTSD on veterans’ lives.

What is 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.” While PTSD is commonly associated with military service and combat exposure, it’s important to recognize that anyone can develop PTSD following traumatic events such as sexual assault, interpersonal violence, or natural disasters.

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious condition that can develop after an individual has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. The symptoms can vary widely but often include:

Flashbacks: Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again, which can be triggered by reminders of the trauma.

Memory Issues: There may be difficulty remembering key aspects of the traumatic event, which can contribute to a sense of disorientation and distress.

Hyperarousal: Being easily startled, feeling tense and being “on edge,” which can lead to difficulties in relaxing and concentrating.

Mood Changes: Experiencing negative thoughts and feelings, such as depression, guilt, or detachment from others.

Sleep Disturbances: Insomnia or recurring nightmares that disrupt the individual’s ability to get restful sleep.

The Impact of PTSD on Veterans


PTSD is a significant risk factor for homelessness among veterans, particularly those who have served in high-stress combat zones, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans with PTSD often struggle to reintegrate into civilian life, facing challenges in adapting to a non-combat environment. This struggle can lead to strained relationships with family and friends, which, coupled with the emotional and psychological burden of PTSD, can result in social isolation. Social isolation, in turn, increases the risk of becoming homeless, as veterans may lack the support network necessary to maintain stable housing

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

PTSD can exacerbate existing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, making it even harder for veterans to cope with everyday life. In an attempt to manage their symptoms, some veterans may turn to substance abuse, using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, this often leads to a cycle of addiction and mental health deterioration, which can further complicate their efforts to maintain stable housing and employment. Substance abuse can also strain relationships and lead to legal and financial problems, all of which are additional risk factors for homelessness.

Difficulties in Civilian Life

Veterans with PTSD frequently face significant challenges when transitioning back to civilian life. Finding and retaining employment can be particularly difficult due to their symptoms, which might include flashbacks, memory issues, and hyperarousal. These symptoms can interfere with job performance and make it hard to maintain steady employment. Additionally, the stress of adapting to a civilian work environment can exacerbate PTSD symptoms, creating a vicious cycle. Financial instability resulting from unemployment or underemployment can contribute to the risk of homelessness, as veterans may struggle to afford housing and other basic needs.

How NVHS is Helping

National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS) is an organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness among veterans in Central Florida. Founded in 2008, NVHS initially focused on providing food and encouraging homeless veterans to enroll in the VA. Recognizing the complex needs of veterans, NVHS’s mission has since expanded to include a comprehensive range of prevention services. 

National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS) not only reaches out to those already on the streets but also serves as a proactive measure to prevent homelessness. This vital component of the program identifies veterans at risk and provides them with timely support to avert the crisis of homelessness. By offering financial assistance, budget counseling, and crisis intervention, we ensure that veterans facing economic hardships receive the help they need before they lose their homes. Our approach is not just about providing a temporary fix; it’s about offering sustainable solutions that maintain the dignity and independence of our veterans, keeping them securely housed within their communities.

Homelessness Prevention: NVHS assists those currently experiencing homelessness but also takes proactive steps to prevent homelessness altogether. A critical aspect of our program involves identifying veterans who are at risk and offering timely support to prevent them from becoming homeless. Through initiatives such as financial aid, budget counseling, and crisis intervention, we ensure that veterans facing economic challenges receive necessary assistance before they face eviction or life on the streets. Our approach is focused on sustainable solutions that uphold the dignity and independence of veterans, ensuring they remain stably housed within their communities.

Housing Assistance: NVHS assists veterans in our Transitioning Housing Program from homelessness to temporary or permanent housing. This includes helping veterans navigate the housing application process, securing rental assistance, and providing support to maintain stable housing. We operate transitional housing facilities that provide a safe and supportive environment for veterans working towards self-sufficiency. These facilities offer various services, including case management, counseling, and life skills training, designed to help veterans build the skills and confidence needed to achieve long-term stability.

NVHS also offers Creative Art Therapy in our housing program to help veterans better understand their behavior and feelings. 

PTSD Awareness – In our PTSA Program, NVHS offers post-traumatic stress awareness, action, and anonymity to those who may be dealing with PTSD. 

By addressing the immediate needs of homeless veterans and providing ongoing support, NVHS is making a significant impact in the fight against veteran homelessness. The organization’s holistic approach ensures that veterans receive the comprehensive care they need to overcome the challenges they face and rebuild their lives.

Our Impact

Since its inception, NVHS has made significant strides in reducing veteran homelessness in Brevard County. The homeless veteran population has decreased by 90%, from 1,800 in 2008 to less than 200 in 2023. Despite this success, our mission continues. According to the US Census Bureau, 4,700 veterans in Brevard County live in poverty, so there is still much work to be done.

Join Our Mission

If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with PTSD or homelessness, NVHS is here to help. Our proactive, intervention-based approach aims to meet veterans where they are and assist them in rebuilding their lives. 

Ways to Support

Your contributions enable us to provide essential services and support to veterans in need. By joining our team as a volunteer or donating, you can directly impact the lives of veterans in your community. Together, we can work towards eliminating veteran homelessness and ensuring that every veteran has the support and resources they need to thrive.

Learn More and Get Involved

By focusing on these key areas and leveraging community support, NVHS continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of veterans affected by PTSD and homelessness. Join us on our mission to create a healthier, more supportive environment and help prevent homelessness for our veterans.

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