Recent scandals at VA hospitals make it perfectly clear: U.S. veterans are not getting the medical care and/or government assistance they need. Unfortunately, matters may be even worse than Americans — and many officials — realize. Healthcare, and more specifically physical health, is not the only area left desperately wanting. Mental health programs for veterans are also wildly insufficient.
How Bad Is It?
Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day, according to CNN. Are lacking mental health programs to blame? Veterans’ advocates and veterans lawyers think so. As of it stands, programs extend no questions asked mental health services to soldiers returning from combat for five years. New research, however, shows that post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious conditions may take seven to 12 years to truly manifest. In other words, cutting off post traumatic stress disorder help at just the first five years is misguided and inefficient.
Is Talk Therapy The Answer?
Traditional talk therapy can be very effective, but it is not necessarily for everyone. Supplementing talk therapy with other treatments — or replacing it altogether — may be beneficial for some veterans. VA mental illness experts and scientists are exploring different ways to treat the symptoms of mental illness, especially those triggered or exacerbated by combat. From brain implants to playing Tetris, researchers are looking into a number of different possibilities.
Brain implants, according to NPR, are already used to treat symptoms of other mental conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease. The implants would work by releasing small (and harmless!) electric signals into the brain to help correct and/or curb depression and flashbacks. Others suggest that distraction therapy — such as engaging in engrossing and simple tasks like Tetris — can have surprising benefits. Seek legal advice for veterans if you believe that a loved one or vet in your life is eligible for better mental health care.
Veterans’ programs are severely lacking — and mental health programs are no exception. Legal advice for veterans can help point them in the right direction and help them get more thorough care and assistance, if necessary. More can be found here.