Article by Kenajawa Lashawn
In honor of our fallen and serving soldiers this month we would like to take a moment to honor those that have fought in the past and are still fighting for our country, lives, and freedom. As we are continually inspired by the work that our clients are doing for the mental health community, it is vital to take some time to prioritize the welfare of our soldiers and veterans. The veteran population is more vulnerable to anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions due to the trauma of wars and violent conflicts experienced.
In an article written by Outlook Magazine, combat trauma has been identified as causing suffering that is among the most challenging to treat. It is important to note that aside from the physical brain injury, the risk of PTSD is higher among younger troops; people of color, groups with limited socioeconomic or educational opportunities; individuals who do not have a strong social support system; and troops who deploy more frequently and for longer periods. In a report on veterans’ suicide released by the US Department of Veteran Affairs it was found that the number of suicides has been on the rise since 2015. Reports like these show how vital it is that we all continue to make strides to improve treatment and resources for our veterans.
*resources provided by Outlook Magazine
Here at Collectively Rooted, we strive to be a voice to advocate for ways to be more helpful to our service members, and identify strides being made in mental health services for ongoing mental health challenges our servicemen and servicewomen face.
There are a growing number of therapists/professionals contributing to the work to help veterans surpass their suffering and transform their trauma. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is known to be world renowned for his work pertaining to the treatment of PTSD. Dr. van der Kolk explains how the emotional and relational difficulties faced by war veterans are shaped by the diagnosis of PTSD and how the effects of trauma are major contributing factors.
In a veteran summit interview that Dr. van der Kolk participated in, he mentioned the concept of de-recruiting the veteran brain as a way of getting veterans adapted back into civilian life. This type of work is also supported by DE-CRUIT; you can check out their work here. During the recruiting process to join the military they have a way of transforming these individuals into someone else. So, after leaving the military they are not only battling past trauma, on top of the trauma experienced in war, but also now having to figure out how to fit back into society.
During this interview Dr. van der Kolk was asked about treatments that can help with healing trauma that has been experienced in the body. One treatment that is not a common psychological practice is incorporating techniques that have been created by other cultures such as martial arts. He stated that these practices, “...help the body organize itself and to be focused and calm, and to learn to really control the internal core, and get muscles back in an organized way.” Another practice that was mentioned was MDMA-assisted therapy. During this therapy, the individual is able to feel what happened, experience self-compassion, and then rearrange their relationship with self.
During this treatment, psychedelics are used to treat PTSD; the therapy addresses self-compassion, self-regulation, alexithymia, and understanding of self. Dr. van der Kolk states that this is not a PTSD treatment but a self treatment. During the session individuals go into their trauma, they lie there and they suffer. As they go into it, the natural defenses that keep people from going there seem to dissolve in MDMA-assisted therapy. This therapy promotes deep self-compassion, and individuals can literally go through a transformation of self.
So, as we take some time to honor those that have fought for our freedom and those that have experienced life-altering trauma to help our country, it is vital that we continue to help them find resources that will help heal the self they have become during their service and get back to their true self.
The DE-CRUIT Program (https://www.decruit.org/about/)- This program uses Shakespeare and science to treat trauma in veterans.
DAV (https://www.dav.org/)- Their mission is to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives by providing the support they need.
VET (https://vetsolutions.org/)- Their mission is to help end the veteran suicide epidemic and help veterans heal from TBI and PTSD.
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