THE EFFECTS OF DISASTER ON VETERANS WITH PTSD

Sometimes when disaster strikes, there are hidden victims. Veterans who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may find that catastrophes cause an increase in anxiety, irritability, flashbacks, hypervigilance, sleep difficulties, and the other symptoms of PTSD.

Following the Boston Marathon bombing, some Veterans found their symptoms of PTSD returning or escalating. The Boston Globe reported that there were Veterans who called in sick during the days immediately following the bombing, and one alcoholic veteran who was on the wagon, resumed drinking. For others, it triggered flashbacks of their wartime experiences.

Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon isn’t the only trigger in recent memory that Veterans have to contend with. Television coverage of disasters and other horrific events such as the falling of the Twin Towers may cause Veterans to re-experience trauma they’d been trying to forget for years. While we can appreciate how television makes events real to us, sometimes it can become too real.

Studies are currently underway to determine to what extent combat Veterans are affected by disaster. By knowing that veterans with PTSD may have their symptoms exacerbate following a disaster, we can be prepared to offer additional support to help them cope.
Sources for Coping with PTSD:
Understanding PTSD Booklet
This eight-page booklet explains what PTSD is, provides information and resources on support, and shares real stories from people who have dealt effectively with PTSD.
http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_ptsd/booklet.pdf
Understanding PTSD Treatment
This eight-page booklet explains in detail the various proven ways to treat PTSD and debunks some myths about treatment.
http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_TX/booklet.pdf
National Center for PTSD
Explore this comprehensive website for detailed information about PTSD, its effects and treatment, and resources for support.
http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp
VA’s PTSD Program Locator
This site will allow you to search for PTSD programs located near you. If you are eligible to receive care through the Veterans Health Administration, you can enroll in one of VA’s PTSD treatment programs.
http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/ptsd_flsh.asp

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