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. For many veterans, anger can quickly destroy their mental state as well as their relationships with friends and loved ones once they return from combat. So how can combat veterans who suffer from PTSD learn to control their anger? The solution may be as simple as good old-fashioned “anger management”.

The Mayo Clinic describes anger management as “a process of learning to recognize signs that you're becoming angry, and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a positive way”. Not to say that anger is a bad emotion—quite the contrary, in fact. Even the Mayo Clinic admits that anger is a healthy emotion, but this can only be considered the case as long as someone expresses their anger in a healthy manner. Many cases of domestic violence have been linked to retired veterans of war, and it is no surprise since very few of them actually receive help for their repressed anger that they developed from combat. Causing death and other casualties to innocent families is no easy task, and one that can quickly make a veteran grow angry with his or herself, yet that veteran feels completely powerless to change their current behavior (or the past as with the case of retired veterans). This anger is then misdirected, often outwards towards others as veterans become increasingly agitated with themselves and their growing frustration.

Luckily the Mayo Clinic says that “anger management helps you recognize frustrations early and resolve them in a way that allows you to express your needs — and keeps you calm and in control”. Anger management can be received through books, audio tapes, and other forms of media, as well as through enrollment in anger management classes hosted in a person’s community. But if these resources aren’t enough, or if you believe that your anger has excelled to a more aggressive and violent stage, then the Mayo Clinic advises that you seek professional psychological counseling to help address this problem.

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.