Our Atlanta trauma therapists have the privilege to work with veterans. Veterans Day is celebrated every November 11th, and is meant to honor the veterans of this country for their service and sacrifice.  Sometimes part of this sacrifice includes trauma sustained in service to our nation.  Some trauma is visible and recognizable in loss of physical functioning in some way.  Some trauma is invisible; there are often wounds from combat, deployment, or sexual assault that can’t be known unless they are expressed.  

Not every experienced trauma develops into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  According to the Veteran’s Administration, about 20% of Service Members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan and 30% of Vietnam Veterans have PTSD symptoms.

Veterans Day can be triggering for many veterans and current service members.  If you or a loved one struggles on Veterans Day, our Atlanta Trauma Therapist has some suggestions to help.

Know Your Triggers

A trigger is a reminder of your trauma.  Triggers can be a sound, smell, place, word, song, outfit, time of year, or one of many other items. 

For some combat veterans and service members, the sound of gunfire or even seeing, smelling or hearing something subtle that reminds you of the theater can induce symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms can look like:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Physical Movement (Such as dropping to the floor or running for shelter)
  • Irritability
  • Dread
  • Avoiding people, places, or things that tend to trigger you

You might recognize yourself or someone you love in some of the symptoms listed above.  Our Atlanta trauma therapist can help you identify your triggers and teach you skills and strategies to help you navigate your symptoms.

Practice Coping Before You Need It

As you begin to collect tools to help you cope with triggers and symptoms of PTSD, practice them. Daily breath and mindfulness work can help you take yourself out of a perpetual “fight or flight” response.  Deep breathing exercises send a message to your brain that you are safe enough and you can come out of protection mode. If this is done daily, you can help to retrain your brain to move from “high alert” to “I’m safe enough in this moment.”

If you know that you’re going to encounter a trigger, do some intentional practice in the days leading up to it.  Our Atlanta trauma therapist can help you develop a plan.

Get Help

It’s no secret that there is a stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the military. Though the stigma is reducing, many people fear separation or judgment as a result of seeking help. 

People often try to numb the symptoms themselves, turning toward substance use, withdrawing from family/friends, or some other destructive coping technique.  Here are some healthier options:

  • Get connected whether it’s a battle buddy (or wingman, or shipmate etc.), support group, AA or NA, or some other social interaction.  If you know that you’re going to be triggered around Veterans Day, surround yourself with support.
  • If you have family or loved ones nearby, tell them that Veterans Day is hard for you.  Ask for their support in keeping you engaged on that day.
  • Seek therapy from someone who is competent in military culture and trauma.

We can’t always control our circumstances or how we feel, but we can expand our resilience and ability to cope.  Our Atlanta trauma therapist can meet you where you’re at and help you develop and execute a strategy for surviving (and thriving!) after trauma.  Call today to get the support and services you deserve.