Veterans Trauma-Informed Care: What You Need to Know
With all too many Veterans suffering from PTSD, the right care is important.
Here’s what you need to know about Veterans trauma-informed care and how it can help.
The US servicemember is often in an unenviable position: their risk of being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is much higher than the average American, due to their service to their country. In fact, the National Center for PTSD reported that in 2018 up to 20 percent of recent servicemembers have been diagnosed with PTSD.
The Center also estimates that as many as 30 percent of Vietnam War Veterans have suffered from PTSD in their lifetimes as well. Even more may be suffering from PTSD without a diagnosis. This is where Veterans trauma-informed care seeks to change things.
What is Veterans Trauma-Informed Care?
As a new, more all-encompassing field of human services, trauma-informed care – especially Veterans trauma-informed care – approaches care from an understanding point of view. Consideration of how trauma can be so pervasive and how to promote an environment of recovery and healing, instead of relying on services and practices that may re-traumatize inadvertently, are central to trauma-informed care.
In clearer terms, this type of care seeks to move the cultural emphasis away from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what’s happened to you?”
Trauma-informed care revolves around the assumption that, while not everyone has a history of trauma, the standing assumption is that this history is more likely than not. It prioritizes recognizing trauma symptoms when present and places a heavy emphasis on how trauma plays a role in the life of an individual – including those that have served in the armed forces.
This is why new approaches to Veteran care have been enthusiastically adopting methods that rely on Veterans trauma-informed care methods, pushing towards changing organizational cultures to emphasize respect and appropriate response to how trauma effects our Veterans on all different levels.
There’s a lot of intention behind Veterans trauma-informed care. One of the biggest goals of this approach is to avoid re-traumatizing Veterans who are suffering from PTSD. In practice, this means reducing the possibility of triggering symptoms of PTSD and making them worse.
This is a big ask, as there’s always the potential for re-traumatization as a result of care.
The goal is to prevent as much re-traumatization as possible. There are obvious and not-so-obvious triggers when it comes to PTSD trauma – specific sounds or even smells can bring a Veteran back to the same mental and emotional place they were at the onset of the original trauma, and it can be hard to avoid. It’s a serious concern of trauma-informed care and one that’s taken incredibly seriously.
Someone who’s re-traumatized multiple times, either by accident or not, often see their trauma-related symptoms get that much worse. They also often feel even less interested in seeking treatment.
This is why Veterans trauma-informed care takes re-traumatization so seriously. The goal is to help PTSD sufferers in any way possible, not make things worse. This requires a smart, sensitive, and above all, flexible approach to some very real, very serious problems. No one experiences PTSD the same way, so a cookie-cutter approach will never work.
Veterans Trauma-Informed Care’s Six Principles
Trauma-informed care is different in that it doesn’t have hard and fast rules. The nature of PTSD is so mutable that no one approach will be applicable to two different people suffering from it. Instead, there are six guiding principles that can be adapted and interpreted in ways that make for a better use in the specific setting it’s being employed, and for the individual that needs the help.
These principles – trustworthiness, safety, empowerment, peer support, collaboration, and choice, are all crucial in helping Veterans, or anyone else for that matter, struggling with PTSD.
Finding Veterans Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-informed care works, which is why it’s become such a popular approach. However, this is still a relatively new care system, and it’s still in its relative infancy. This means it can sometimes be hard to find service providers that subscribe to this method, especially when it comes to Veterans. The VA takes PTSD seriously – but the wheels of bureaucracy turn very slowly, as anyone who’s served in the US military knows all too well.
In the years to come, it’s likely that the US government will pivot to a trauma-informed care approach to its Veterans. Until it does, however, if you’re looking for Veteran trauma-informed care you may be able to find it elsewhere. While most treatment for PTSD involves therapy, trauma-informed care doesn’t necessarily begin and end at the doors to your therapist. As PTSD triggers can be anywhere, doctor’s offices and places of work can adopt a trauma-informed care approach to help patients and employees feel safer and empowered as well.
The National Veterans Foundation – There for You
Are you a Veteran struggling with PTSD? There’s no shame in looking for help – especially if you haven’t found the type of Veterans trauma-informed care that you need. The National Veterans Foundation can help you get the care you need when you need it. The NVF – because we don’t leave anyone behind. We are built on the core principles of trauma-informed care, and you will find a caring Veteran when you call.
For agencies that work with Veterans, the National Veterans Foundation offers trauma-informed training and consultation. Contact us today.