PTSD family

Retired Tech. Sgt. Chris Ferrell, a former Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury after combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, plays with his sons, Maximus and Titan, in the backyard of his in-laws’ home in Hanover, Pa., Apr. 5, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Between 2004 and 2012, the percentage of all active-duty service members with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased from 1 to 5, the Institute of Medicine reports.

Furthermore, the report stated that in 2012, “13.5 percent of U.S. Army service members had PTSD, as did 10 percent of Marines, 4.5 percent of Navy personnel, and 4 percent of Air Force personnel. The same year, more than half a million veterans of all eras sought care for PTSD through VA (the Department of Veterans Affairs’) health care services-making up 9.2 percent of all VA users.”

During PTSD Awareness Month in June, the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) wants to let service members and veterans know that they are not alone, and that help is available.

“PTSD impacts many service members, veterans and their families,” says Kelly Blasko, counseling psychologist at T2. “Those in the military community who experienced a traumatic event, while deployed or in any other situation, may carry the effects of that experience with them.”

Blasko said there are health technology-based resources from T2 that can help service members, veterans and their families understand and cope with PTSD.

T2’s advanced health technology solutions include AfterDeployment, a website providing wellness resources for the military community; Military Kids Connect, a website that helps military children ages 6-17 build resilience and cope with challenges like a parent’s PTSD; and a variety of mobile health apps for access to help anytime, anywhere.

AfterDeployment addresses the behavioral health challenges that are common in the military community – including PTSD. The program provides information that explains the issues service members and veterans may be facing, while helping the family members who support them.

A range of tools – including free, anonymous and easy assessments – help users evaluate what they might be experiencing, like symptoms of PTSD. They can also check out videos of real service members and veterans sharing their stories of PTSD; a booklet of essential information on the causes and signs of PTSD and how to manage symptoms; and guidance on how and when to seek help from a health care professional.

T2’s mobile apps portfolio offers additional resources for managing PTSD. Innovative and engaging mobile apps, such as Breathe2Relax, LifeArmor and Virtual Hope Box, have helped many people navigate the tough challenges of military life, addressing issues like PTSD, anxiety, sleeplessness and traumatic brain injury.

The Military Kids Connect program is the only DoD initiative developed specifically for military youth and their psychological health. The web-based resource, provides age-appropriate tools for military children, including information on how to deal with a parent who has PTSD. And a video series shows how other military kids coped with parents who experienced PTSD and how they made their relationships stronger.

“We want the military community to know that help is available, and T2’s resources can be the first step to recovery,” Blasko says. “Our resources can help them understand what they are going through and learn how to make things better for themselves and their loved ones, as well as knowing when to seek treatment.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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