How Can A Soldier Get Help When Suffering With PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can ruin a soldier’s personal and professional life, including their most sacred relationships, like a spouse and his/her children. Combat related PTSD symptoms include night-terrors related to events in the theater of battle, night sweats, flashbacks, paranoia, anxiety, rage, insomnia, and amnesia. Renowned Psychiatrist and author Bessel Van Der Kolk penned a book called The Body Keeps The Score in which he thoroughly educates readers about how trauma lasts through the body and the brain, and how devastatingly impactful trauma can be on long-term health. He wrote,
“Posttraumatic stress is the result of a fundamental reorganization of the central nervous system based on having experienced an actual threat of annihilation (or seeing someone else being annihilated), which reorganizes self experience (as helpless) and the interpretation of reality (the entire world is a dangerous place).”
He discussed frustration about the amount of help available to the person suffering from PTSD,
“Unfortunately, few psychologist are taught during their training how the memory-processing system in the brain works. This omission can lead to misguided approaches to treatment…”
Trauma Counseling In Modern Times – These Are Different Days & That’s A Good Thing!
Mental health counselors throughout the United States military, as well as civilian mental health professionals have better knowledge and ability than ever before. Many soldiers are reluctant to use the military system for help. Some fear professional repercussions, and others fear personal losses if their mental health status is discovered or revealed. A soldier can gain help from a military counselor through Military Once Source (www.militaryonesource.mil). But excellent off-base support exists also! Fact is, many soldiers and their families seek off-base support and counseling. How and where to find help can be confusing, and that is why I write today.
We the people of the United States of America are nearly ready to celebrate another independence day! But many of our soldiers feel anything but free. This post is about Freedom. We don’t rest our laurels in the political sphere, for free people are much more than that. We view each other as equals. At the heart of who we are is the ability and freedom to make pursuit because of who we are. But we don’t rest there, because those who fight the hardest for our freedom are left by a people who do not know how to fight for theirs. But that’s changing. People can and want to help. At Real Connections Counseling we desire your freedom. Freedom to be who you are, and want to be for you, and your dearest relationships. Freedom. We have a reason to celebrate. Freedom. It’s the condition in which you can make you and your loved ones, better. These could be exciting times for you!
This article will provide you with excellent, exciting, and even ground-breaking ways that can and do change lives for the better. These are ways to help you heal from trauma. I highlighted the military option for on-base mental health support, but I wanted to also show you that many of us around you are much more than civilians. I can speak for me and my wife Monique as part of Real Connections Counseling, but there are many others … we’re freedom fighters too. We’ll fight for you. Below are four off-base options.
Alternate Off-base Places Where Help & Healing For PTSD Can Be Found
1. Counseling at Universities: More and more students of psychology and social work are becoming educated about combat related post traumatic stress symptoms that can reek havoc upon a victim’s life. Regis University in Colorado offers a concentration in counseling military personnel and their families as part of an masters of counseling, or a couples and family therapy degree. There are other institutions throughout the country. Amongst them are Regis University, Denver, Thornton, & Colorado Springs, CO, the University of Mary in Bismark, ND, William James College in Boston, MA, University of Southern California, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN, and Walden University.
Professors at Regis University actively seek knowledge about working with military personnel and their families. Dr. Linda Osterlund of Regis University for instance wrote an excellent article about advocating for military personnel and their families. You can find the article here: https://www.counseling.org/Resources/Library/VISTAS/2011-V-Online/Article_17.pdf. Former Regis University professor, Dr. Jim Ungvarsky studied resiliency extensively, but also explored military family life and mental health, having been a military spouse himself. He, Dr. Osterlund, and then Regis counseling student Megan Numbers authored this article about the plight of military families: https://www.counseling.org/Resources/Library/VISTAS/2011-V-Online/Article15.pdf.
Schools of psychology at universities across the United States often offer free counseling. You’ll most likely be counseled by an upper level counseling student who’s gained skills as a counselor to soldiers and their families, but has not yet graduated. Their guides are their professors who often doubt as licensed professional counselors. You gain good counseling with the support of experts. My alma mater, Regis University can be reached through the web, or by phone: They can be reached in Thorton, CO near Denver, or Colorado Springs, CO.
500 E. 84th Ave.
Thornton, CO 80229
Colorado Springs Location:
7450 Campus Drive, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
And you can read a bit more about the Regis Program: http://www.regis.edu/RHCHP/Academics/Degrees-and-Programs/Graduate-and-Doctorate-Programs/MA-Marriage-and-Family-Therapy.aspx.
Turning Point Medical Group – Colorado Springs, CO
2. Markus Ernst of Turning Point Medical Group in Colorado Springs, CO, a true military town, is a multi-disciplinary clinic offers the newest breakthrough therapies for VESTIBULAR REHAB, PTSD, ADHD and others. Turning Point offers GYROSTIM THERAPY. He says, “GyroStim therapy is a revolutionary brain therapy to treat brain injury and treat brain disorders. GyroStim is a powerful and precise computer-controlled multi-axis rotating chair. It stimulates the vestibular and visual system to treat targeted parts of the brain. This activates the brain’s neuroplasticity. They, “turn on the brain’s ability to heal itself! The synergy of the visual system, vestibular system, proprioceptive system, and the brain is responsible for almost everything in our body. GyroStim allows us to leverage those systems to effectively treat brain injuries.” Turning Point helps people from all over the world. Call Turning Point Medical Group at 719-399-0050. A helpful video can be seen here: https://www.turningpointmedicalgroup.com/gyrostim-therapy/
Gyrostim is physical therapy for the brain. And Turning Point Medical Group is one of only a few clinics in the world who offer this new and wonderful technology.” You can see a video about Gyrostim Therapy here: GyroStim Therapy Colorado Springs CO – Vistibular Rehabilitation. A person can also search for counselors in their area that specializes in curing PTSD.
3. Psychology Today provides excellent and easy access to counselors. Counselors throughout the country built a detailed profile that give people like you information you need, including who he or she is, where they were educated, their specialties, and passions.
a. Type in your city/town or zip code, and a list of therapists will populate the screen.
b. To the left of the counselor column is where you can choose the issues you would like the counselor to specialize in. One such issues item is “Trauma and PTSD.” Choose that option, and the counselors specializing in PTSD will populate the screen.
c. Choose a counselor that seems right to you, and off you go. To get you started, press this link to get to their “Find A Therapist” page: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/
4. Call a local counselor using a search engine search (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Key words are, well … key! For instance, a search for “PTSD Counseling, Des Moines, IA” where I’m from, lists a host of options for you. Read in the privacy of your home, then make the call.
More and more counselors have become skilled and passionate providers of counseling for soldiers suffering from PTSD. The counselors are not only better equipped, they’re significantly better acquainted about military life. More therapists better understand the impact of multiple deployments, when a soldier undergoes a “permanent change of station (PCS),” the weight of knowing that each deployment could turn into devastation, to the often constant strain on significant relationships. Furthermore, soldier suicide rates from year to year far outpace the civilian suicide rate. A dire need for help exists.
Professionals of the U.S. military forces have made strides toward providing resources to help soldiers enduring mental illness and/or significant relational strain (https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/2016suicidedatareport.pdf). But military resources are limited. That’s where civilian counselors throughout the U.S. can make a huge difference for the military. One such organization where counselors love to help soldiers and their families is Real Connections Counseling, LLC (RCC), run by counseling couple Rick & Monique Elgersma.
RCC: Experience, Heart, & Know-how
Rick and Monique know that trauma can begin at pre-deployment. Deployment, their efforts in the theater of battle, and redeployment are all places where soldiers can experience significant traumatic experiences that confuse, startle, or injure their brain. Furthermore, those different arenas of the process can also be hard on their family members, including a spouse/partner, and the children.
Monique spent her entire youth in a military family. Her dad served in, and survived, Vietnam. Her father was a “lifer” serving over 24 years in the United States Army. Rick also is a by-product of his dad’s experience in Vietnam in 1968–69. The deadly Agent Orange chemical used in Vietnam led to Rick’s birth with Spina Bifida. Thousands of men who were exposed to Agent Orange became dads to thousands upon thousands of children with congenital birth defects. Rick has spent time in the last several years pursuing knowledge about PTSD, learning the needs of military personnel who experience combat related PTSD, and counseling and meeting military personnel who suffer from PTSD. He has also fought through his own battle with PTSD.
RCC & Co-Therapy
Military clients gain two ardent advocates for their mental health at RCC. Their own life experience, including pain, loss, frequent moves, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Rick has moved through his bout with PTSD) means they get it. Plus, they offer co-therapy! Soldiers and their families have a wonderful opportunity to gain from a couple that understands, advocates, and becomes an ally with them throughout the counseling relationship. They model with you that life is better together. They know what it takes to hold firm together through dark, dark days.
Help In The Heartland
Rick & Monique established Real Connections Counseling in Urbandale, Iowa. Call them at 515–635–1085. They also provide video therapy. Lastly they’re exceedingly proud to provide co-therapy, a rarity in the counseling world. Co-therapy means that Rick & Monique Elgersma will be an active part, together, of the military clients’ therapy. They and their clients have found this to be a wonderful opportunity. Research this and more about them through their website, www.realconnectionscounseling.com.
To Bear A Load
But they are not the only counselors that can help. Counselors can help bear the load together. Rick & Monique depend on that, because they can’t help everyone. Clients can’t always connect with or click well with their counselor, and that is ok. People may desire a certain kind of counseling such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), an often effective treatment for trauma, and some people need counselors who take TRICARE. Rick & Monique are willing, glad, and able to help you find the right people to fit your needs and personalities.
From The Theater of War, To The Theater of Help
Bottom line? It’s getting easier for some to trust civilian sources for help. Those who want to help might or might not know about life on the battle-ground, but they do know pain, loss, and trauma. Friends can lend an ear, and maybe offer advice, but civilian counselors can provide expertise, compassion, understanding, and a safe and neutral ground where healing can happen. There are counselors who accept TRICARE for counseling services. Some do not take insurance, but don’t let that discourage you from finding the best counselors for you. Great help is far better than simply a counselor and their insurance offering. For instance, Rick & Monique at Real Connections Counseling are cash/check/credit card only. However, if insurance coverage is important to you, they will be happy to search with you to find a good option that can also offer insurance!
Equip Yourself – Educate Yourself
Some of you want to educate yourself better about PTSD, because a person you love suffers from this severe mental sickness presently. Perhaps start with reading a book. I’ll highlight again the book written by renowned Psychiatrist Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. who wrote “The Body Keeps The Score.” Van der Kolk’s book has become a prime “go-to” resource for individuals and counselors alike because he created a clear picture of PTSD. Namely, he detailed what happens to a body and brain of a person wracked by trauma, and what can be done to help people heal.
Be encouraged. Take Heart. Help is out there. Reach out, and you’ll find what you need.