CAVHCS Clearinghouse for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The Department of Veterans Affairs and Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) recognizes the great sacrifices made by Service members and Veterans of all eras and that no one returns from combat unchanged. Some Veterans develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and may have significance challenges for several years as they live with PTSD and other related problems.
The purpose of this link is to provide resources. Accessing available resources and support may be the first step for those who have been the most significantly impacted by their military service...whether they're Service or Family members.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition resulting from exposure to direct or indirect threat of death, serious injury or a physical threat. Symptoms of PTSD can include recurrent thoughts of traumatic event, reduced involvement in work or outside interests, emotional numbing, hyper-alertness, anxiety and irritability.
There is no single solution for PTSD, but it is treatable and there are multiple effective treatments offered at VA. Mental health is central to treatment of PTSD but VA can also provide assistance with education, employment, and housing counseling.
Recent changes to VA regulations have made it easier for Veterans to establish service connection for PTSD by eliminating the requirement for corroboration of the stressor in certain circumstances.
Note two particularly important things about PTSD:
1. The primary response to stressful events is resilience. Most individuals who return from a combat deployment do not meet criteria for PTSD or another major mental health condition, although they may experience normal problems readjusting back home after deployment.
- But they may experience Post Traumatic Stress - that is, some symptoms and emotional difficulties triggered by stress, but without a full diagnosis of PTSD.
- Our military Veterans have great strengths and often grow in ways that they may never could have imagined before a deployment. This is known as posttraumatic growth, and we believe this is as important to talk about as posttraumatic stress.
2. While PTSD is treatable, it is important to encourage returning OEF/OIF Veterans to seek an evaluation and treatment as soon as it is identified that they may be having problems with PTSD, in order to prevent those problems from getting worse.
- However, these evidence-based treatments for PTSD are also effective for Veterans with PTSD from all eras of service.
- PTSD is NOT a hopeless condition. Further, treatment can be effective for those with PTSD, in helping with resilience, relieving symptoms, and preventing development of PTSD over time.
CAVHCS has a commitment to provide the most effective, evidence-based care for PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs has implemented significant training initiatives to ensure that VA clinicians receive training in state-of-the-art treatments for PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs has trained over 2,900 VA clinicians in the use of Cognitive Processing Therapy or Prolonged Exposure, which are evidence-based therapies cited by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Treatment of PTSD as proven to be effective treatments for PTSD.
Other approaches also are available which can help with particular symptoms or help Veterans seeking a different approach. The choice of which treatment approach to use is a decision made by the Veteran in collaboration with his or her mental health treatment provider.
With innovations led by the Department of Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD, VA operates an internationally recognized network of more than 200 specialized programs for the treatment of PTSD through its medical centers and clinics. Every VA medical center has outpatient PTSD specialty capability and all of these programs have an additions specialist associated with the program to address the commonly co-occurring problem of substance use disorder.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has focused efforts on the early identification and management of stress related disorders in order to decrease the long term burden of these problems on returning troops (http://www.oefoif.va.gov/).
OEF/OIF Veterans coming to CAVHCS for the first time are screened for the presence of symptoms of PTSD, depression, and alcohol misuse and for any history of military sexual trauma. They also are screened for TBI, a physical health problem (not a mental health disorder). It's important to note:
- The same screening for PTSD, depression and alcohol misuse is repeated on a regular basis for new or existing Veterans of any service era.
- Should the Veteran screen positive for any of these conditions, further evaluation and appropriate treatment are provided, often right there in the primary care clinic.
Women Veterans, (http://www1.va.gov/womenvet/) receive treatment for conditions associated PTSD as well as with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) - mental health treatment based on psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery, and homeless services.
The CAVHCS Women Veterans Health Program supports the health, welfare, and dignity of women veterans and their families and ensures equal access to timely, sensitive, quality health care. We understand and know how to treat women's health issues and want to be health care provider of choice for women veterans.
The CAVHCS Women's Health Program targets programs and facilities to meet the unique needs of female veterans. Contact the CAVHCS Women's Coordinator at the Montgomery VA Medical Center at 334-272-4670, Ext. 4782 or at the Tuskegee VA Medical Center at 334-727-0550, Ext. 3930.
The VA Women Veterans Health Program offers comprehensive medical services to enrolled OEF/OIF women veterans. These include, but are not limited to, wellness and disease prevention, primary care, women's gender-specific health care including hormone replacement therapy, breast and gynecological care, maternity, and limited infertility (excluding in-vitro fertilization), acute medical/surgical care, telephone, emergency and substance abuse treatment, mental health, domiciliary, rehabilitation and long term care.
A Women Veterans Program Manager can help you understand the care services available and navigate the VA system. Contact your nearest VA health care facility and ask to speak with the Women Veterans Program Manager. To find your nearest health care facility, call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visit http://www.va.gov/ and select "Locations."
Help is here. The most important step in dealing with any stress related issue is taking the first step, or the initiative to seek help. Whenever you are ready - help is here. If you're a veteran, family member, service member or friend - help is available.
- VA's Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and Chat Service (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org). The program saves lives (11,300 rescues to date) and links Veterans into effective ongoing mental health services. Family members also can access these services to express concern about a veteran, and they will receive guidance and support. The VA Hotline is also available to Active Duty Service members.
- National Center for PTSD (http://www.ptsd.va.gov) - The Department of Veterans Affairs has deserved reputation for leadership and expertise in PTSD. CAVHCS encourages all Veterans, family members, clinicians and members of the public to visit the National Center for PTSD Web site, which provides reliable, expert information about PTSD and can provide hope for recovering from PTSD with effective treatments.
- VA Vet Centers (Montgomery Vet Center-http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?ID=5623) - provide a broad range of counseling outreach, and referral services to eligible veterans and their families to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life. Vet Centers also furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children and siblings of service members who die of any cause while on active duty.
- Justice Outreach - efforts feature CAVHCS programs for Veterans whose mental health problems result in interactions with the Justice system. Available at CAVHCS Homeless Stand Downs Justice Outreach efforts feature collaboration with Veterans Treatment Courts.CAVHCS works in collaboration with police departments to train officers to deal effectively with individuals in crisis situations who have mental health problems.
- Seamless Transition (http://www.oefoif.va.gov/) VA continues extensive work together with the Department of Defense (DoD) to increase the consistency, quality, and access to mental health services across the two Departments. CAVHCS OEF/OIF Program Coordinator is Marius D. Patton, LMSW (334) 725-3102 or 1-800-214-8387, Ext. 3102. For more info, click here.
RESOURCES FOR VETERANS, FAMILIES, AND LOVED ONES:
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: If you or a loved one is in crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Link to Suicide Prevention - Online Chat: Please see "Live Chat" icon - (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/)
- Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF): http://www.oefoif.va.gov/.
- Mental Health: (http://www.centralalabama.va.gov/services/mentalhealth.asp) - The mental health service at CAVHCS serves approximately 7,000 veterans annually from the Central Alabama. Western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle regions. It provides consultation, evaluation, and treatment for a variety of issues that can impact emotional well-being.
- Social Work: (http://www.centralalabama.va.gov/services/socialwork.asp) CAVHCS Social Work is an integral part of health care. Our social work program assists veterans with counseling and community services.
- National Center for PTSD: (http://www.ptsd.va.gov/).
- PTSD Program Locator Online: (http://ww2.va.gov/directory/guide/PTSD_flsh.asp?isFlash=1).
- CAHVCS Outpatient PTSD Clinical Team: Contact Jesse Combs by email, Jesse.Combs@va.gov, or call (334) 727-0550, Ext. 3843.
- Women Veterans: (http://www1.va.gov/womenvet/) receive treatment for conditions associated PTSD as well as with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) - mental health treatment based on psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery, and homeless services.
- CAVHCS Women's Health: The CAVHCS Women's Health Program targets programs and facilities to meet the unique needs of female veterans. Contact the CAVHCS Women's Coordinator at the Montgomery VA Medical Center at 334-272-4670, Ext. 4782 or at the Tuskegee VA Medical Center at 334-727-0550, Ext. 3930.
- Military Sexual Trauma (MST): 1-800-827-1000 or ask at your local facility. Please feel free to request a provider of the gender - male or female - with whom you would fee the most comfortable.
- Veteran Combat Call Center: Staffed by combat Veterans 24 hours/day you can contact the call center at 1-877-WAR VETS (1-877-927-8387).
- Transitioning to civilian life after combat: (http://www.vetcenters.va.gov/) or call 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern Time); 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific Time).
- VA Medical Center: (http://www.va.gov/) & click on "Locations" or call 1-877-222-8387.
- VA Benefits Information & Assistance: 1-800-827-1000
Montgomery Regional Office (http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?ID=359&dnum=3).
- Education & Education: 1-888-442-4551.
- National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 1-877-4AID VET (424-3838).