According to census data obtained by U.S. News, about 16.5 million Americans (6.4%) identified as Veterans in 2021. In 2020, over 5.2 million Veterans struggled with a behavioral health condition. Specialized Veteran programming for mental health conditions and substance use disorders can significantly improve Veterans’ quality of life and ensure that our heroes get the most out of treatment so they can thrive in body and mind.
Prevalence of Mental Health Issues Among Veterans
Some of the most common mental health challenges faced by Veterans include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- General psychological distress
- Substance use disorders
- Anxiety disorders
Some of these issues affect Veterans disproportionately compared to the civilian population. PTSD, for example, is much more prevalent among Veterans than it is among civilians. Untreated PTSD can often lead to substance use problems, which require specialized dual-diagnosis treatment.
Thankfully, dozens of evidence-based treatment methods are available to help alleviate behavioral health issues for Veterans and the general population. Talk therapy, psychiatric medications, medical interventions, neurotechnology, and behavioral modification methods are all effective at helping Veterans reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Yet many Veterans have found that these therapies are often less than optimal when delivered in a general mental health setting. Veterans face unique challenges that are often misunderstood by civilian populations or, worse yet, not addressed at all.
Challenges Facing Veterans in Treatment
There are several mental health treatment challenges unique to Veterans. While those outside the military may try their best to sympathize, most civilians cannot comprehend the harsh realities of military life.
Decades of research on talk therapy show that the therapist/client relationship has the most significant impact on whether a client achieves their treatment goals. In clinical research, scientists refer to this as the therapeutic alliance.
The therapeutic alliance hinges on a therapist being able to empathize with their client; therapists must see where their clients are coming from and provide support and compassion from a place of understanding. While all therapists strive to root their approach in compassionate understanding, the disconnect between civilian therapists and Veterans can sometimes be too vast for even an experienced clinician to overcome.
The same principle is true in group therapy: while group therapy is a highly effective treatment method for various mental health challenges (including addiction, depression, anxiety, and PTSD), group participants must be able to connect through a level of shared experiences.
Disconnection often becomes a stumbling block for Veterans seeking mental health treatment with civilian peer groups. If their issues stem from their military experience, war, or the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life, group therapy at a generalized mental health facility can leave Veterans feeling unheard, misunderstood, and separate from their peers.
Specialized Veteran Programming
Veterans experience better treatment outcomes with specialized programming. Veteran programming directly addresses the issues above and provides unique treatment options developed specifically for the Veteran population.
Individual Therapy for Veterans
Like many behavioral health programs, individual therapy plays an important role in Veteran programming. Individual therapy offers a depth of understanding and one-on-one interaction with a trained clinician, allowing Veterans to delve into the root causes of their mental health struggles and build effective coping strategies they can use in the future.
Clinicians specializing in Veteran programming and those with military experience are best equipped to provide individual therapy for Veterans. While not all therapists at APN Lodge are Veterans, our team has specialized training in helping service members process their mental health challenges and achieve recovery.
The team at APN Lodge is dedicated to helping Veterans recover. Some of the specializations of our treatment team include:
- Moral injury
- Military sexual trauma
- Military culture and identity formation
- Mental, physical, and spiritual well-being
No matter what issue is most prevalent in your life, our team is here to help.
Group Therapy for Veterans
This model of providing support for Veterans by Veterans extends to our group therapy options. Veteran programming offers group therapy specifically for Veterans, where peers with shared experiences and challenges can come together to find community and safety, share their experiences, and offer support and understanding on the path to recovery.
Specialized group therapy for Veterans means you don’t need to filter yourself for a civilian audience or worry about being misunderstood by your peers.
The power of group therapy stems from bringing people together with shared experiences, and that’s precisely what group therapy for Veterans provides.
Family Therapy for Veterans
Another common challenge often left unaddressed in general mental health facilities is how military life can impact families. Families of former service members can face unique challenges of their own, such as long deployment times, second-hand trauma, and a host of other difficulties.
A Veteran’s program offers catered family therapy options for Veteran families who face unique mental health challenges. A family therapist will meet with you and your family to help facilitate communication and techniques that promote healing throughout the entire family unit.
Innovative Treatment Modalities
Specialized Veteran programming can go a step further to support the unique needs of this population by offering innovative treatment modalities to help this population overcome the gaps in treatment. These offerings can include targeted behavioral therapy approaches and medical interventions, including integrative psychiatry and neurotechnology.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a specialized therapy approach to helping people with PTSD. EMDR combines well-studied talk therapy approaches with an innovative method known as bilateral stimulation. This method involves bringing your attention from one side of the body to the other.
While this may seem overly simplistic, bilateral stimulation can have a powerful effect in helping Veterans recover from PTSD. The right hemisphere of the brain process sensory information from the left side of the body, while the left hemisphere processes information from the right side.
Scientists have theorized that activating both sides of the brain during therapy can help clients dislodge traumatic memories and reduce the painful effects of traumatic recall. Over the course of several weeks, EMDR can significantly improve the symptoms of PTSD and can facilitate healing for Veterans as they work toward recovery.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
HBOT is a medical treatment that increases the body’s available oxygen levels. Oxygen is a critical component of cell repair, and spending time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can speed the recovery process from both physical and mental health injuries.
Research on HBOT has shown that it is an effective adjunctive therapy for PTSD, as well as helping to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) and concussions. HBOT is a non-invasive procedure and can easily complement a behavioral health plan without interfering with other treatment methods.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS)
Deep TMS is a specialized treatment that uses powerful magnetic impulses to treat mental health disorders. Deep TMS is non-invasive, has minimal side effects, and can work with several other treatments and therapies.
Talk therapy approaches work to treat mental health disorders at a cognitive and behavioral level. Clients can reduce the negative symptoms of mental health challenges by changing their thoughts and behaviors.
Deep TMS takes a different approach: it provides electromagnetic pulses directly to areas of the brain impacted by mental health disorders, which can spur dramatic improvements in several common mental health challenges. Research has shown deep TMS to be an effective treatment for:
- Major depressive disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Anxious depression
- Smoking cessation
Deep TMS can help kickstart your brain’s recovery and can be used alongside traditional behavioral therapy approaches to provide long-lasting results.
Health and Wellness Supports
Health and wellness supports can play an important role for clients looking to improve their overall well-being and quality of life while receiving effective, evidence-based care. These services help you recover more comfortably and optimize your physical and mental health while in treatment. Health and wellness services can include options such as:
- Physical therapy
- Sensory deprivation tanks
- Stress relief
- Personal training
- Experiential therapy
These services facilitate overall wellness and create more opportunities for routines that help you manage stress, physically process challenging emotions, and deepen recovery behaviors. We offer a range of complimentary and at-cost amenities to help you to enjoy yourself while receiving care and provide plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation between therapy sessions.
Veteran Treatment at APN Lodge
If you’d like to learn more about the Veterans program at APN Lodge, call 855.235.9792 or fill out our confidential online contact form. Hope and healing are possible and you don’t have to suffer alone.
- Gilligan, Chris. “Who Are America’s Veterans?” U.S. News, 11 Nov. 2022, www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2022-11-11/who-are-americas-veterans.
- Owens, Stacey. “Supporting the Behavioral Health Needs of Our Nation’s Veterans.” SAMHSA, 8 Nov. 2022, www.samhsa.gov/blog/supporting-behavioral-health-needs-our-nations-veterans.