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Iowa City VA Health Care System

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PTSD

Humvee patrol. Photo courtesy US Army.

PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA AND TRAUMA

VA recognizes the great sacrifices made by Service members and Veterans of all eras, and that nobody returns from combat unchanged.  Although many who are exposed to psychological trauma are remarkably resilient and do not have chronic difficulties, trauma can be associated with a number of difficulties including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, other anxiety problems, or problems relating to other people. The Mental Health Service Line provides a wide range of services for Veterans who are suffering from the consequences of military and non-military related psychological traumas such as combat, sexual assault, or other life-threatening experiences. Depending on a Veteran’s needs, a range of services are available.

The recently-aired HBO film “WARTORN 1861 -2010” has poignantly and powerfully depicted the experiences of some of those who have been the most significantly impacted by traumatic events during their military service and who may have PTSD.

WHAT IS PTSD?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after you have been exposed to a traumatic event.  A traumatic event is something that you see or that happens to you during which you may feel that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.

Symptoms of PTSD can include recurrent thoughts of the traumatic event, reduced involvement in work or outside interests, emotional numbing, hyper-alertness, anxiety and irritability.

PTSD IS TREATABLE

There is no single solution for PTSD, but it is treatable.

There are multiple treatment options offered for individuals suffering from PTSD.  These treatments may involve learning tools for dealing with the symptoms of PTSD, individual or group therapy, medication management, day hospital programming, or through practices based on Prolonged Exposure or Cognitive Processing Therapy. 

Care for psychological trauma often takes place in the context of teams of providers from many disciplines including psychology, psychiatry, social work, pharmacy, nursing, readjustment counselors and Veteran peers.

Mental health care is central to treatment of PTSD, but VA can also provide assistance with education, employment, and housing counseling.

RESOURCES

If you or someone close to you is in crisis there are several places to seek assistance:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Suicide Prevention Online Chat: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/Veterans/  
Look for the “Live Chat” icon

National Center for PTSD: www.ptsd.va.gov 

Military Sexual Trauma resources: www.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome.asp 
Or ask at your local VA facility. Please feel free to request a provider of the gender – male or female – with whom you would feel the most comfortable. 

VA’s general information hotline:  1-800-827-1000

Or call “911 in any emergency situation

RESOURCES IN VISN 23

The VA Medical Centers in VISN 23 offer several ways of treating PTSD depending on the individual and their needs. These treatments may include cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonally-oriented therapy, and mindfulness-based techniques.

VA Black Hills Health Care System (VABHHCS)
VABHHCS Offers an Inpatient PTSD program and an Outpatient program for Substance Use and PTSD (SUPT). There is also a semi-annual retreat for women affected by PTSD.

For more information about these programs visit www.blackhills.va.gov/Mental_Health.asp or call
Fort Meade 1.800.743.1070 ext. 9.7449 or 605.720.7449
Hot Springs 1.800.764.5370 ext. 9.2883 or 605.745.2883

VA Central Iowa Health Care System
The VA Central Iowa Health Care System offers both residential and outpatient treatment for PTSD at our Des Moines campus. In addition, outpatient treatment currently is available at three of our Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), and will be available at the Marshalltown CBOC in January of 2011.

For more information contact the PTSD Program Coordinator:
Dr. John Wallace, Ph.D. 515.699.5999 or 800.294.8387, ext. 4905
To schedule appointment at the CBOC locations, please call the clinic directly:

Fort Dodge: 877.578.8846
Knoxville: 641.842.3101 or 800.816.8878
Marshalltown: 641.754.6700 or 877.424.4404
Mason City: 641.421.8077 or 800.351.4671

Fargo VA Medical Center
The Fargo VA Medical Center offers a Posttraumatic Stress Recovery (PTSR) Program designed to assist Veterans who have experienced traumatic events or severe stress while in military service. The primary goal of PTSR is to help Veterans cope with immediate and long-term effects of PTSD.

For more information visit www.fargo.va.gov/services/mentalhealth.asp 
or call 1.800.410.9723 extension 9.3150

Iowa City VA Health Care System
Iowa City VA Health Care System provides consultation, evaluation, and treatment for PTSD and a variety of issues that can impact emotional well-being. The Mental Health Clinic staff provides evaluation and treatment services for veterans. Psychiatrists, advance practice nurses, psychologists, licensed social workers, and counselors staff the Mental Health Clinic. A variety of treatments are used, including medications and therapy/counseling. The goal of all treatment in the Mental Health Clinic is to alleviate symptoms, to improve patients' lives, and to improve their relationships with their families and communities.
We conduct research and training to ensure state-of-the-art treatment.

The Mental Health Clinic is located at the Veterans Outpatient Clinic:
520 10th Avenue
Coralville, IA.
319.688.3365

For more information on the Mental Health Clinic, visit:
www.iowacity.va.gov/services/mentalhealth.asp
Or call 319.688.3365

Minneapolis VA Health Care System
Minneapolis VA Health Care System offers several models of evidence-based interventions, emphasizing cognitive behavior psychotherapy, interpersonally-oriented psychotherapy, and mindfulness-based techniques. Other Patient care services include:

  • Individual and Group Psychotherapy
  • Education about common trauma reactions and skills to deal with those reactions
  • Psychiatric evaluation and medication management
  • Couples and family therapy (for adults)
  • Psychological evaluations to aid with diagnosis and treatment planning including neuropsychological screening

For more information:
Mental Health Intake (MHI): 612.725.1921
Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.  
www.minneapolis.va.gov/services/MentalHealth/MHTrauma.asp

VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System 
VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System offers several ways of treating PTSD depending on the individual and their needs. 

For more information contact:
Omaha VA Medical Center
4101 Woolworth Avenue
Omaha, NE 68105
402.346.8800 or 800.451.5796

Sioux Falls VA Medical Center
The Sioux Falls VA Medical Center offers individual and group outpatient therapy options for Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, we have a five-day PTSD Intensive Outpatient Program (PTSD IOP) to help Veterans with PTSD live fuller, more meaningful lives -- even when PTSD symptoms are present.

Please contact the PTSD Program Coordinator for more information:
Robin Carter-Visscher, PhD
605.336.3230 or 800.316.8387, ext. 6923

St. Cloud VA Medical Center
The St. Cloud VA Medical Center offers both outpatient and residential treatment for PTSD including a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Recovery Center (PRRC).   Outpatient treatment is also available at our three Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs).

For more information visit www.stcloud.va.gov/services/mentalhealth.asp 
Or call 320.252.1670, Toll free 866.687.7382.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND PLACES TO GET INFORMATION

PTSD Program Locator Online 
www2.va.gov/directory/guide/ptsd_flsh.asp

Returning from the War Zone Guides
www.ptsd.va.gov/public/reintegration/guides-rwz.asp

Understanding PTSD
www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/fslist-ptsd-overview.asp

Veteran Combat Call Center 
Staffed by combat Veterans 24 hours/day
1-877-WAR VETS (1-877-927-8387) 

Vet Centers  - Transitioning to civilian life after combat: www.vetcenters.va.gov;
by the end of 2010, there will be 300 Vet Centers across the US and surrounding territories (US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa). 
Click this link  to find one near you or call during normal business hours at 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) and 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific)

National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 
1-877-4AID VET (1-877-424-3838)
http://www1.va.gov/HOMELESS/NationalCallCenter.asp 
“Live Chat” is available on this website

Find your local VA Medical Center:
www.va.gov (click on “Locations”)
1-877-222-8387

VA Health Benefits:
1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387)

Benefits Information & Assistance: 
1-800-827-1000

Education & Training: 
1-888-442-4551

PTSD SYMPTOM EXAMPLES

Re-experiencing Symptoms

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks

Avoidance Symptoms

  • Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations related to the trauma
  • Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others

Arousal Symptoms

  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Exaggerated startle 

WHAT TO SAY TO A COMBAT VETERAN:

 

“Thank You” and “Welcome Home” are always appropriate

 

Allow the Veteran to talk about what they are comfortable sharing

 

Let the Veteran lead the conversation

 

Find a quiet place to talk, one-on-one if possible