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“War on homelessness: U.S. veterans deserve a roof over their heads”

English: Homeless Woman Iraqi War Veteran in W...

English: Homeless Woman Iraqi War Veteran in Wheelchair and her Chihuahua, at San Diego Stand Down. Photograph by Patty Mooney of San Diego, California, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This January 21, 2014 article on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website talks about efforts being made to help Veterans get off the streets and into some basic housing.

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“Combat Paper allows veterans to ‘deconstruct, reclaim and communicate'”

English: Papermaking by hand. Woodcut.

English: Papermaking by hand. Woodcut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This November 11, 2012 article on the LehighValleyLive.com website talks about a program to help military Veterans through paper making, using their old uniforms to make the paper.

“Man’s Best Friend Lives Up to the Name”

English: A Psychiatric Service Dog In Training

English: A Psychiatric Service Dog In Training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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This article doesn’t have a date on it, but I received  link to it in an email directly from NAMI on Wednesday, July 11, 2012.  The article was neat for me to read, because I have a Psychiatric Service Dog, and I love hearing about others being able to benefit from these awesome dogs.  prior to getting Tippy, I was in he hospital at least once per year for mental health reasons, but I’ve had Tippy for about 6 years now, and only had to be hospitalized once in that time frame.  The reason for the hospitalization was the result of eating too much grapefruit which interacted with my medications negatively and caused me to have a serotonin overload, which I later found out was more serious than I realized at the time.  At any rate though, I’m finding that Tippy helps motivate me to get out of bed on those days when depression is trying to creep in, she helps me remember to take my medications on time, and my panic attacks have decreased significantly since I got her as well.  I now find that going out in public while still challenging, is much more tolerable then it had been before I got her.

One thing I would like to remind folks of though, is that despite Guide Dogs for the visually impaired being the type of service dog that people think of first, it is important for folks to realize that not all disabled people are visually impaired.  Service dogs have been trained for all sorts of disabilities, including but not limited to, hearing, seizure alerts, diabetic alerts, mobility, psychiatric, and other types of disabilities that have a huge impact on the individual’s ability to function in everyday life.  Not all disabilities are visible to the naked eye, so if you see someone who is accompanied by a service dog, don’t assume the handler is visually impaired, or that the dog is in training both could be wrong assumptions, and for me personally, I get frustrated with it when people make such assumptions about me, because it comes across as rude on some level and like people view me as a diagnosis and not as a person.  Treat folks who are accompanied by a service animal the way you would want a stranger to treat you if you were seen in public, it’s ok to be friendly, and say hi to me, or commenting on the weather or whatever other small talk you might encounter while shopping, but please respect the fact that disabled people are not required by any law or regulation to discuss their disability in detail with anyone, and that despite out disability, we are people first 🙂

“Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans”

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This article found on Philadelphia’s WPVI website dated April 10, 2012 talks about treating PTSD in US Veterans

 

“Left unspoken…”

This article discusses mental illness in Veterans.  It was found in the November 11, 2008 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and can be found in its original format at … http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08316/926896-109.stm 

Left unspoken
We must help veterans to talk openly about their addictions and mental illnesses
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When Chris Hill was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1982, he made sure to remove the medical records in his permanent file about his visits to a psychiatrist. Mr. Hill, who was experiencing severe anxiety attacks, was afraid to be labeled as a veteran with psychiatric problems.

“I was embarrassed about it at the time,” says Mr. Hill, who now works as a mental health counselor for the Jefferson Center for Mental Health in Jefferson County, Colo. “There was a stigma in my own mind about it being bad to get psychiatric help. As a Marine, I didn’t want to appear weak.”

Research shows that Mr. Hill’s trepidation about receiving psychiatric care is not unique among members of the Armed Forces. A 2004 study of 6,000 military men and women involved in ground combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan found that of those whose responses indicated a mental health problem, only 23 to 40 percent sought psychiatric help. Many who did not seek treatment cited fear of being stigmatized as a reason.

After leaving the Marines, Mr. Hill struggled with alcohol, attempted suicide and says he “lost every material thing I ever owned.” Hitting bottom taught him he had to deal with his alcoholism and depression, and he finally began psychiatric counseling.

For the thousands of veterans like Chris Hill who return home with physical and mental scars, their wounds can present particular challenges for years to come. The wars overseas rarely made front-page news during the recent election season, but they still loom large for families left behind during tours of duty and dealing with the war’s aftermath as veterans return with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

Nearly 300,000 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from either post-traumatic stress or depression, according to a recent study by the RAND Corp. The Department of Veterans Affairs says mental health is the second largest type of illness for veterans of these wars.

Some of these troubled veterans seek help from a network of community mental health centers nationwide. These centers’ deep roots in the community make them well-suited to counsel veterans by engaging churches, synagogues, schools and other community institutions to become involved in a holistic approach that treats veterans’ entire families.

Soon more veterans may be able to receive counseling from community-based organizations. On Oct. 10, President Bush signed into law The Veterans Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008. The new law directs the Veterans Administration to contract with community-based health-care organizations to provide mental-health services in rural areas in which access to VA services is inadequate.

But we should not expect mental health professionals to go it alone. Everyone has a role to play to help veterans overcome the stigma of mental illness. A few easy ways to help are:

• Talk about your family’s experiences with mental illness and addiction as you would about other medical conditions. Mental illness and addiction need to come fully out of the closet.

• Become literate about mental illness and addiction. Read and ask questions about these conditions and look for courses on mental health in your community.

• Support veterans groups and local mental-health centers’ efforts to make mental-health and addiction treatment available in every community.

On this Veterans Day, whether we are a veteran, family member, friend, coworker or simply a concerned citizen, we all need to fight the stigma attached to seeking mental-health treatment. We need to do go the extra yard to ensure that veterans who may be suffering from mental illnesses receive the help they need.

Linda Rosenberg is president and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (www.thenationalcouncil.org).
First published on November 11, 2008 at 12:00 am
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