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.

Unfortunately, combat soldiers who are currently serving and suffer from PTSD have little control over their symptoms since they have not yet been removed from the toxic atmosphere which triggered the illness in the first place.

Collectively, the symptoms of PTSD can cause a soldier to feel physically and emotionally isolated, since their atmosphere and the people around them are constant changing. This isolation can become especially aggravated when a soldier has to constantly relocate during his or her service. Deployments and frequent relocations are requirements held by all branches of the military, but this constant change of scenery can forever prevent an affected soldier suffering from PTSD to reconnect with familiar people, places, and things in order to establish a sense of familiarity and rehabilitation.

Constantly readjusting to a new atmosphere is undoubtedly stressful for anyone, and especially so for combat soldiers who might find themselves relocating across the globe in a matter of months from their previous move. Plus, deployments can occur at any time and almost anywhere, which can leave an angsty soldier in a constant state of anxiety and desperately desiring familiarity of any sort, be it old friends from their last living location to the relative comfort and amenities provided by a particular base in which that soldier once resided.

Ultimately, it would be best for soldiers who are currently deployed and who suffer from PTSD to remove themselves from the battlefield as soon as possible. However, due to the sometimes impossible nature of this tactic, affected soldiers should seriously consider seeking treatment immediately after they are discharged from service rather than re-enlisting into a new war. The sooner the symptoms of PTSD are treated, the faster and easier a soldier can be rehabilitated. Both talk therapy and psychiatric medication are the preferred methods to treating PTSD.

However, veterans should be wary of seeking this sort of treatment through the VA, since reports released by CNN in 2012 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. Therefore, ailing soldiers and veterans who suffer from PTSD might want to consider consulting outside organizations 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.