The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively. But for many veterans, depression might be one of the most relentlessly aggressive symptom of all. But what sort of options are available that provide relief?

An article in the New York Times called “A new focus on depression” explains how over time, only 26 percent of sufferers will experience total remission from their symptoms after only one round of treatment. Sometimes, a second round of treatment nearly doubles that number, but that still equates to only half of those who suffer from depression experiencing relief from their depression.

The article also notes that there are currently 26 different antidepressants available as of late 2013. This staggering amount of medicinal options then explains why so many veterans are dying from overmedication—that is, veterans are accidentally overdosing on all of their prescription medication, antidepressants included.

Similarly, but the article also notes how about 30 percent of patients build up a tolerance (or “treatment resistance”) to the medication, even if they continue taking the medication. Such an occurrence could potentially lead patients to consume more of the medication in order to receive the same medicinal results. Thus, overmedication can occur, taking the lives of innocent veterans in the process.

Perhaps veterans should then seek more holistic approaches to treating their depression—approaches that do not rely so heavily on medication. But what sort of facility harbors such treatment options? Veterans who suffer from PTSD are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention by ways of the VA.

Reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. A medical practitioner associated with the VA anonymously admitted to CBS News in a TV interview that “it is easier to write a prescription for narcotics and to just move along and get to the next patient” so that more veterans would be “treated”. This news outbreak, coupled with the 2014 VA scandal, hopefully cause ailing veterans to consult non-associated medical facilities to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life.

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.