During combat, a soldier must always be on high alert for his or her own personal safety. Danger lurks around every corner, and every day could bring the possibility of certain doom. Therefore, a soldier must take all precautionary measures to avoid being taken by surprise by a foreign weapon or even an enemy soldier.

However, when a combat soldier returns home from the battlefield, this incessant paranoia is no longer needed, yet is almost impossible for a soldier to abandon. After all, this sense of paranoia was used as one of the key tools for survival by a soldier for prolonged periods of time. But in a civilian setting, acute paranoia can disrupt a person’s inner peace and interrelations with friends, co-workers, and loved ones.

Acute paranoia, that is, paranoia that quickly takes over a person’s sense of reality and causes them to act irrationally, can become quite dangerous for that person and surrounding individuals. This type of paranoia can even be considered as “paranoid personality disorder,” which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can severely inhibit a person’s social life and personal well-being. A person who expresses symptoms of PPD shows signs of “unjustified belief that others are trying to harm or deceive you,” “[perceiving]….innocent remarks or nonthreatening situations as personal insults or attacks,” and a “tendency to hold grudges”. On the whole, PPD can disallow a combat veteran to mentally transition from the warzone into the household.

Combat veterans who express signs of paranoia might also have a common mental disorder known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. 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.

Since there is no cure of PTSD, veterans who suspect that they might suffer from the disorder (especially if they express paranoid symptoms) should seek treatment as soon as possible. If PTSD or PPD are left untreated, a veteran might completely lose his or her sense of reality and turn towards drastic measures to find inner peace, including suicide. Several news outlets conclude that roughly 22 combat veterans a day are taking their own lives, and no doubt that some of these veterans suffer from mental illnesses like PTSD and PPD and are in desperate need of relief. Talk therapy and psychiatric medication are only two of the various treatment methods available to veterans who suffer from mental illness.

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.