Are Community Mental Providers Ready For Returning Soldiers?

Check out Thomas Venema’s newest blog post!

Every since humans began fighting and killing each other there has been evidence that war changes people. Throughout history there have been examples and writings about how men who return from war frequently seem like the empty husks of who they once were and are prone to fits of violence and rage at the slightest provocation. Communities with returning soldiers have always struggled with how to help these shattered men, especially when it seems as though the only place they belong is on the battlefield. The blind rage that these old soldiers had was even held in high esteem by certain cultures; some scientists believe that the fabled viking berserkers actually suffered from extreme PTSD and used that rage, possibly combined with hallucinogens and alcohol, to enter a fugue state of fury and violence.

Unfortunately, even though PTSD has been a constant in human history, it is still a fairly unknown condition with no set cure or treatment. As soldiers continue to return from battle, they continue to struggle with the after effects of what they’ve seen and done. The new type of urban and irregular warfare that our soldiers are facing have led to new struggles with treatment due to the nature of this different type of warfare and the largest question our returning veterans face is whether the local communities they’re returning to are properly equipped to help them through the trauma and difficulties that lie ahead.

A new RAND Corporation study has found what most people (and soldiers) already suspect and know; most local community-based mental health providers aren’t adequately prepared to take care of our soldiers and help them overcome their PTSD. The report also points to these providers being unprepared to help the families through these trying times as well. While the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Association (VA) have been expanding their care and offer mental health support to both soldiers and families, many soldiers chose local providers because they’re closer to home and their families. With the VA expanding the access of veterans to these local providers, the impetuous to train them properly grows with every passing day.

The study is going to be used to hopefully increase the quality and level of care that these local clinics can provide by pin-pointing their weaknesses and increasing the level of training and equipment that the clinics receive so that they can provide the maximum amount of care to those who need it most. The battle against PTSD is just one more that our brave soldiers need to face and it’s uplifting to see that they are beginning to get the support that they desperately need.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.


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