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. And with veterans’ benefits being gradually cut year after year by both Congress and the Pentagon, no wonder these retired soldiers are suffering from almost insurmountable stress.

Mark Thompson, a contributor for Time magazine, raised the question in an article called “Are U.S. Veterans Selfish?” Meaning, are veterans seen as greedy for becoming outraged when their benefits, such as lowering the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment rate and causing commissioner stores on-base to close due to lack of government funding.

“When presidents and congresses insist on waging war with no shared sacrifice,” writes Thompson, “it should come as scant surprise that those who have done all the sacrificing squawk when their expected benefits end up on the chopping block.”

Thompson adds that it is almost as if veterans are quickly becoming a “special interest group” rather than approximately 1% of the U.S. population who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their nation and its people.

But some people like to argue that veterans are being rather selfish, since Thompson records how veterans’ annual paychecks far outweigh those of their civilian counter-parts, even though those soldiers and civilians might come from the same personal and educational background.

But seeing as though veterans are the ones who have been targeted as the solutions to help balance the U.S. budget deficit, it is easy to understand why veterans are suffering from increased levels of stress. How many civilians would squirm if their pensions were cut?

For wounded or mentally-ill veterans, it might seem comforting to know that veterans’ health care plans are still supported by Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which thus promotes the workings of the Veterans Administration to assist veterans who suffer from PTSD and other mental disorders, for example.

However, veterans should be wary of seeking this sort of treatment through the VA, since 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. 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.