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Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD)

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Trauma and PTSD VA website - click here

The Path to recovering from PTSD ~ click here

60 minutes Hails Veterans Treatment Courts for providing "Justice for our Veterans' in a story profiling the Harris County Veterans Treatment Court in Texas. 

Coming Home ~ Justice for Our Veterans - meet some of our troops, click here.

60 Minutes Hails Veterans Treatment Courts ~ click here to view.

As seen in the story, Arthur Davis was facing twenty years in prison when he became one of the first participants in the Harris County Veterans Treatment Court. The decorated veteran served two decades in the Marine Corps, completing four combat deployments. When he returned home for the final time, he had difficulty engaging with his surroundings, drank to self medicate, and was soon arrested for assault. Thanks to the collaboration in Harris County, he was able to receive treatment for substance abuse and PTSD. Today, Arthur Davis has been sober for two years. “It put me back in a leadership position,” Davis said. “The veterans' court, they prescribed a nice detailed pattern of what you needed to do in order to get on board. And it works.”

In 2011, the Harris County Veterans Treatment Court attended Justice For Vets’
Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative (VTCPI), a comprehensive five-day training for new and planned Veterans Treatment Court teams. “Judge Carter and his team are a shining example of how Veterans Treatment Court can transform a community. I congratulate them on this story and thank them for their commitment to ensuring no veteran is left behind,” said Justice For Vets Director Matt Stiner. “Every Veterans Treatment Court should feel proud of last night’s story on 60 Minutes. It is a testament to the unwavering commitment of those who work in these courts, and the incredible capacity for change of the men and women who are served by them. This story sends a strong message that Veterans Treatment Courts will forever change the way the criminal justice system handles veterans.”

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is among only a few mental disorders that are triggered by a disturbing outside event, unlike other psychiatric disorders such as depression.

Many Americans experience individual traumatic events ranging from car and airplane accidents to sexual assault and domestic violence. Other experiences, including those associated with natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes, affect multiple people simultaneously. Dramatic and tragic events, like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and wars occur, and with media exposure such as we have today, even people not directly involved might be affected. Simply put, PTSD is a state in which you "can't stop remembering." For example, Vietnam Veterans who “can’t stop remembering” the traumatic events of firefights, and other horrific war scenes.

In one out of 10 Americans, the traumatic event causes a cascade of psychological and biological changes known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Wars throughout the ages often triggered what some people used to call "shell shock," in which returning soldiers were unable to adapt to life after war. Although each successive war brings about renewed attention on this syndrome, it wasn't until the Vietnam War that PTSD was first identified and given this name. Now, mental health providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and other health care professionals can attempt to understand people’s response to these traumatic events and help them recover from the impact of the trauma.


The typical symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, emotional detachment, hypervigilance, night sweats, and extreme efforts to avoid stimuli that reminds one of the traumatic events. Also prevalent are:

Flashbacks: Imagine experiencing the most terrifying horror movie you’ve ever seen playing over and over in your mind. You can’t make the images go away. These are the flashbacks so commonly associated with PTSD and usually are thought of in connection with combat veterans in war.

Emotional detachment: Emotional detachment is a second symptom of PTSD, which is often not as obvious outwardly to anyone other than the person experiencing it. For these people, their emotional systems are in overdrive. They have a hard time being a loving family member. They avoid activities, places, and people associated with the traumatic event. They are simply drained emotionally and have trouble functioning every day.

Recurring Dreams of trauma.

An exaggerated startle response to stimuli that reminds one of trauma.

Difficulty concentrating.

Flat affect.

Bunkering down - what war veterans do to prepare for battle. Example, a war veteran who stays in his garage for excessive periods of time preparing for battle.

Specilized PTSD Treatment Programs in the US. Dept of Veteran Affairs - click below

Specialized PTSD Treatment Programs


PTSD WATCH (Click on this link)

Addressing PTSD (Click on this link)


War is a life threatening experience that involves witnessing and engaging in terrifying and gruesome acts of violence….The trauma of war is the shocking confrontation with death, devastation, and violence. It is normal for human beings to react to war’s psychic trauma with feelings of fear, anger, grief, and horror, as well as emotional numbness and disbelief.

We know from numerous research studies that the more prolonged, extensive, and horrifying a soldier’s or sailor’s exposure to war trauma, the more likely that she or he will become emotionally worn down and exhausted – this happens to even the strongest and healthiest of individuals, and often it is precisely these exemplary soldiers who are the most psychologically disturbed by war because they are able to endure so much of it with such courage….

So it is no surprise that when military personnel have severe difficulty getting over the trauma of war, their psychological difficulties have been described as “soldier’s heart” (in the Civil War), or “shell shock” (in World War I), or “combat fatigue” (in World War II). After World War II, psychiatrists realized that these problems usually were not an inborn “mental illness” like schizophrenia or manic depressive illness, but were a different form of psychological disease that resulted from too much war trauma: “traumatic war neurosis” or “post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD). Most war veterans are troubled by war memories, but were fortunate enough either not to have “too much” trauma to recover from or to have immediate and lasting help from family, friends, and spiritual and psychological counselors so that the memories became “livable.”

Veterans deal with additional challenges when it comes to PTSD and substance abuse. The pressures of deployment or combat can exacerbate underlying mental disorders, and substance abuse is a common way of coping with unpleasant feelings or memories. Often, these problems take a while to show up after a vet returns home, and may be initially mistaken for readjustment. Untreated PTSD and substance abuse can lead to major problems at home and work and in your daily life, so it’s important to seek help. 

Veterans often benefit from treatment and support from specialized programs that address the unique stresses veterans face.


Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

�� High rates of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from combat trauma or military sexual trauma that significantly impacts the ability to form trusting relationships. It appears that combat exposure is an important contributing factor, as rates of PTSD for those returning from Iraq were almost twice the PTSD rates before deployment.  PTSD may also contribute to substance abuse problems and relapse.

�� Other mental health problems and/or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that may result in cognitive impairments (difficulties with concentration or remembering tasks), difficulties in social relationships or controlling temper or impulses, or other effects that may create barriers to employment and stable relationships.

�� High rates of alcohol & substance abuse.

�� Multiple and extended deployments may contribute to unemployment and/or damage to family connections and family conflict upon return.

�� Compared to other homeless Veterans, a much higher percentage of Veterans of Operation.  Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) are women and many are caring for young children; significant numbers have experienced sexual abuse and trauma during and/or prior to military service.

Elimination of Online Signature

Requirement Speeds Access to Care

WASHINGTON – As part of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki’s effort to streamline access to benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has removed the signature requirement for Veterans who electronically submit an online 10-10EZ “Application for Health Benefits.”  

“This singular action will reduce days, if not weeks, for Veterans who apply online to access their hard-earned medical benefits and upholds the promise to reduce access barriers to needed care for this Nation’s Veterans,” said Shinseki.

Previously, Veterans filling out the online application were required to print a copy, sign it and send to their local medical center or wait for a copy to be mailed to them for signature and mailing before enrollment into the VA healthcare system could occur.  

For additional information, go to or call VA’s toll free number at 1-877-222-VETS (8387). The online form is available at

For additional information click here.

For your online form click here.

Call VA’s toll free number at 1-877-222-VETS (8387)


  • What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD?
PTSD is a recurrent emotional reaction to a terrifying, uncontrollable, or life threatening event.

  • Intrusive Thoughts and Flashbacks May Occur
    • Combat with hits constant tension, fear and anxiety
    • Replaying military experiences in their minds
    • Searching for alternative outcomes
  • Not Forgetting Is a Symptom
    • Often triggered by a smell, sight, or sound similar to the original event.
    • Are you subject to a quiet masked rage, which frightens you and those around you? (Outward anger)
    • Is your anger explainable or inappropriate?
    • Do you believe God abandoned you?
  • Isolation
    • Do you attempt to isolate yourself from others either emotionally or physically and sometimes geographically?
    • Do you have a "leave me alone" attitude about your loved ones, or feel you need no one?
    • Do you believe no one can understand you or would listen if you tried to talk about your experience?
  • Emotional Numbing
    • Do people see you as a cold, aloof, uncaring and detached?
    • Do you often fear losing control, or that if you began to release your pain you might never stop crying?
    • Are You unable to talk about personal emotions?
  • Anxiety and Nervousness
    • Do fireworks and other loud noises startle you?
    • Are you uncomfortable when people walk closely behind you or sit behind you?
    • Do you believe you can trust no one?
    • Has depression become a part of your life?
    • Do you find yourself blaming others, or situations, as "beyond your control?"
    • Do you feel a continual sadness, but ignore it?
    • So you have suicidal thoughts?
    • Do you lack energy or desire to accomplish tasks?
    • Do you have low Self-esteem?
    • Do you have an ongoing "I don't care" attitude?
  • Use Alcohol or Other Drugs Regularly
    • To numb your pain, relieve guilt, hide memories?
  • Guilt
    • Survivor's guilt when others died around him, "If only I..."
    • Self punishing behavior
  • Stress
    • Conditional suspension
    • Not trusting
    • Never relaxes
  • Denial
    • Unable to admit having any of the above symptoms may indicate PTSD.
    • Unwilling to seek help
    • "Things are OK!  I can take care of myself."


Coping By Disarming Your TRIGGERS

  • PTSD is a danger because the symptoms keep returning.
    • Mental and emotional symptoms such as remembering a scene and experiencing fear (emotional) frequently lead to unwanted behaviors.
    • A person may hear a sound, recall an event from many years ago, and feel fear (danger), and begin looking around while beginning to sweat.
  • The trigger setting off emotional and mental "reminders" may be a noise from the past.
    • Triggers can be identified.
    • Once Triggers are known, a person can learn ways to disarming them.
  • Typical triggers include;
    • smells like Ethnic food or diesel fuel may bring back memories
    • sounds like a crash noise or fire crackers
    • sights of events that brings back memories
    • feelings on edge
    • Unexpected visitors may trip your wire

The more common or repeated triggers are the ones to work on first.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
  • Re-experiencing symptoms:
    • Flashbacks - reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart and sweating.
    • Bad dreams
    • Frightening thoughts Avoidance symptoms:
    • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience.
    • Feeling emotionally numb
    • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
    • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
    • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
  • Hyper Arousal symptoms:
    • Being easily startled
    • Feeling tense or "on edge"
    • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
  • Risk Factors for PTSD include:
    • Living through dangerous events and traumas
    • Getting hurt
    • Seeing people hurt or killed
    • Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear
    • Having little or no social support after the event
  • Resilience Factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:
    • Seeking out support from other people
    • Finding a support group
    • Having a coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it
    • Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear

Researchers are studying the importance of various risk and resilience factors.  With more study, it may be possible someday to predict who is likely to get PTSD and prevent it.

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person's every day routine.  They can start from the person's own thoughts and feelings.  Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.


Common Reactions After Trauma 

After going through a trauma, survivors often say that their first feeling is relief to be alive. This may be followed by stress, fear, and anger. Trauma survivors may also find they are unable to stop thinking about what happened. Many survivors will show a high level of arousal, which causes them to react strongly to sounds and sights around them.

Most people have some kind of stress reaction after a trauma. Having such a reaction has nothing to do with personal weakness. Stress reactions may last for several days or even a few weeks. For most people, if symptoms occur, they will slowly decrease over time.

All kinds of trauma survivors commonly experience stress reactions. This is true for veterans, children, and disaster rescue or relief workers. If you understand what is happening when you or someone you know reacts to a traumatic event, you may be less fearful and better able to handle things. 

Reactions to a trauma may include:

  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Feeling detached or unconcerned about others
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling jumpy and getting startled easily at sudden noises
  • Feeling on guard and constantly alert
  • Having disturbing dreams and memories or flashbacks
  • Having work or school problems

You may also experience more physical reactions such as:

  • Stomach upset and trouble eating
  • Trouble sleeping and feeling very tired
  • Pounding heart, rapid breathing, feeling edgy
  • Sweating
  • Severe headache if thinking of the event
  • Failure to engage in exercise, diet, safe sex, regular health care
  • Excess smoking, alcohol, drugs, food
  • Having your ongoing medical problems get worse

You may have more emotional troubles such as:

  • Feeling nervous, helpless, fearful, sad
  • Feeling shocked, numb, and not able to feel love or joy
  • Avoiding people, places, and things related to the event
  • Being irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • Becoming easily upset or agitated
  • Blaming yourself or having negative views of oneself or the world
  • Distrust of others, getting into conflicts, being over controlling
  • Being withdrawn, feeling rejected or abandoned
  • Loss of intimacy or feeling detached

Turn to your family and friends when you are ready to talk. They are your personal support system. Recovery is an ongoing gradual process. It doesn't happen through suddenly being "cured" and it doesn't mean that you will forget what happened. Most people will recover from trauma naturally. If your stress reactions are getting in the way of your relationships, work, or other important activities, you may want to talk to a counselor or your doctor. Good treatments are available.

Common problems that can occur after a trauma

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a condition that can develop after you have gone through a life-threatening event. If you have PTSD, you may have trouble keeping yourself from thinking over and over about what happened to you. You may try to avoid people and places that remind you of the trauma. You may feel numb. Lastly, if you have PTSD, you might find that you have trouble relaxing. You may startle easily and you may feel on guard most of the time.

Depression:  Depression involves feeling down or sad more days than not. If you are depressed, you may lose interest in activities that used to be enjoyable or fun. You may feel low in energy and be overly tired. You may feel hopeless or in despair, and you may think that things will never get better. Depression is more likely when you have had losses such as the death of close friends. If you are depressed, at times you might think about hurting or killing yourself. For this reason, getting help for depression is very important.

Self-blame, guilt and shame: Sometimes in trying to make sense of a traumatic event, you may blame yourself in some way. You may think you are responsible for bad things that happened, or for surviving when others didn't. You may feel guilty for what you did or did not do. Remember, we all tend to be our own worst critics. Most of the time, that guilt, shame or self-blame is not justified.

Suicidal thoughts:  Trauma and personal loss can lead a depressed person to think about hurting or killing themselves. If you think someone you know may be feeling suicidal, you should directly ask them. You will NOT put the idea in their head.

 If someone is thinking about killing themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The phone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Veterans should press 1 after being connected to reach the Veterans Hotline.  You can also call a counselor, doctor, or dail 911.

(Click below on Suicide Prevention Life Line site)


Anger or aggressive behavior:  Trauma can be connected with anger in many ways.  After a trauma, you might think that what happened to you was unfair or unjust.  You might not understand why the event happened and why it happened to you. These thoughts can result in intense anger.  Although anger is a natural and healthy emotion, intense feelings of anger and aggressive behavior can cause problems with family, friends, or co-workers. If you become violent when angry, you just make the situation worse. Violence can lead to people being injured, and there may be legal consequences.

Alcohol/Drug abuse:  Drinking or "self-medicating" with drugs is a common, and unhealthy, way of coping with upsetting events. You may drink too much or use drugs to numb yourself and to try to deal with difficult thoughts, feelings, and memories related to the trauma. While using alcohol or drugs may offer a quick solution, it can actually lead to more problems. If someone close begins to lose control of drinking or drug use, you should try to get them to see a health care provider about managing their drinking or drug use. 

Summing it all up

Right after a trauma, almost every survivor will find him or herself unable to stop thinking about what happened. Stress reactions such as increased fear, nervousness, jumpiness, upsetting memories, and efforts to avoid reminders, will gradually decrease over time for most people.

Use your personal support systems, family and friends, when you are ready to talk. Recovery is an ongoing gradual process. It doesn't happen through suddenly being "cured" and it doesn't mean that you will forget what happened. Most people will recover from trauma naturally over time.  If your emotional reactions are getting in the way of your relationships, work, or other important activities, you may want to talk to a counselor or your doctor.  Good treatments are available.


Click here ~ Military Veterans PTSD Reference Manual