Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychological reaction to traumatic events that can be experienced by anyone who has been exposed to a life-threatening, violent, or dangerous situation. Common sufferers include combat Veterans and First Responders, who respond to help victims of traumatic events.
According to the Veterans Administration, PTSD is the leading contributing factor to nearly 40,000 American Veterans being without a roof over their heads.
PTSD is also a major contributing factor in suicides and substance abuse. VA statistics indicate that PTSD impacts 11% to 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, approximately 12% of Gulf War Veterans, and 15% of Vietnam Veterans. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of homeless women who suffer from service related PTSD, whom are often accompanied in homelessness by their children.
It was not until the Forgotten Warrior Project in the 1970s that effort was directed into the identification and treatment of these invisible wounds. For decades, PTSD was referred to as “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” and was dismissed as general anxiety. The data from the Forgotten Warrior Project was crucial to the ultimate adoption of PTSD into the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980.
The growing acceptance and recognition of PTSD as a clinical diagnosis has led to many resources, including the VA’s Readjustment Counseling Service, for Veterans who suffer from PTSD and other service related mental health issues and traumas.
Additional resources for individuals suffering from service related traumas include:
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans – a resource that provides emergency and supportive housing, food, health services, legal aid and case management support for homeless veterans
The National Alliance to End Homelessness – a non-partisan organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness which has an array of policy, data and program resources related to homelessness among veterans.
and The Disabled American Veteran’s Charitable Service Trust – an organization that promotes the development of supportive housing and necessary services to assist homeless Veterans to become productive, self-sufficient members of society.
If you encounter a homeless Veteran, or any other individual that you think may be affected by PTSD please, let them know that there is help, and guide them to the resources they may need.
For immediate help, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press “1”