HealthWatch: Women Vets & PTSD

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- One out of every ten veterans leaving their military commitments is a woman. That number will grow and with it, so will cases of PTSD. But helping these women is proving difficult for the Veterans' Administration, a system that historically has focused only on men. 

Navy veteran Tanya Godinez is going to call the H.O.P.E. Center home for the next nine weeks. She was raped by a man on her ship 26 years ago and has suffered from PTSD ever since.

Godinez expressed to Ivanhoe, "Here, I'm first, and my gratitude is overflowing."

About one in four women say they were sexually assaulted while serving in the military. As a result, most PTSD cases stem from those assaults. Sadly, some women say they deal with this trauma for decades. 

"I kind of look at PTSD as like having a full-time job where it's intense," said Caryn Dilandro, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist and PTSD Program Manager.

This in-patient VA facility near Buffalo, New York is only one of four in the nation for women only, dealing with everything from PTSD to depression to anxiety.

Jill LaMantia, MSN, RN, the Women Veterans Program Manager at the H.O.P.E Center said, "It could be all sorts of physical things. GI is affected and rashes, all sorts of things."

Understandably, many women don't like seeking treatment in facilities that have focused almost exclusively on men, but the VA is changing that.

LaMantia explains, "I literally meet them at the front door. I walk them everywhere they need to get used to the building."

After years of isolation, coping with PTSD on her own, navy veteran Amanda Krzyzanowski wants to make sure no other woman has to suffer alone. That all changed for her at the H.O.P.E Center.

"Now I don't feel that way and I'm proud to say that I did it," Krzyzanowski shared.

The VA is trying to reach out to women veterans to let them know they are eligible for care regardless of where or how long they served.  Women can also call the VA's women veterans hotline at 1-855-VA-WOMEN. The four VA facilities offering these treatments for women are: Batavia (Near Buffalo), New York; Menlo Park, California; Lyons, New Jersey and Brockton, Massachusetts.

Contributors to this news report include: Kris O'Donnell, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Tom Vetter, Videographer.

BACKGROUND: Post traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, is a mental health condition that is triggered by an emotional or stressful event. When a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic or terrifying event, they are more likely to re-live it through PSTD. When experiencing an uncommon event, most people may feel anger, shock, nervousness, fear, and even guilt. These emotions are normal, and for most, they go away over time. On the other hand, for people who suffer from PTSD, these emotions can intensify; forbidding them to live a normal daily life. The disorder can affect anyone at any age. Some of the most common events that can cause PTSD are:

 

* Sexual or physical assault

* The unexpected death of a loved one

* An accident

* War

* A natural disaster

 

Approximately 8% of the American population, 24.4 million, suffers from PTSD. 

(Source: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder#1 & http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/) 

 

TREATMENTS: PTSD is often treated with a type of counseling called psychotherapy, medication, or both. The goal of these treatments is to reduce the emotion and physical symptoms, to improve everyday life activities, and to help the person cope with the experienced event. Most often the medications used are antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft. The psychotherapy counseling can include:

 

* Cognitive behavioral therapy

* Exposure therapy

* Psychodynamic therapy

* Family therapy

* Group therapy

* Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

 

Symptoms from PTSD never completely go away; but with the help of the treatments, people learn to cope and to manage the intensity and reoccurrence of the symptoms. 

(Source: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder#3-6) 

 

PSTD & WOMEN VETS: PTSD is a disorder that can affect anyone, but women are twice as likely to experience it than men. 1 in every 9 women develops the condition. In the army, 17% of combat troops are female. For most men soldiers, war is the reason for developing the disorder. Whereas, 71% of female military personnel develop PTSD due to sexual assault within ranks. PSTD is often treated in facilities, but these are often men-dominated. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is trying to become more female friendly. They currently possess four facilities for women-only in Batavia (near Buffalo), NY; Menlo Park, CA; Lyons, NJ; and, Brockton, MA. In these facilities the female soldiers can be treated for any mental health condition like PSTD, depression and anxiety. The V.A. is currently trying to reach out to women veterans to let them know they are eligible for this care regardless of how long or where they served. The number for the VA Women Veteran Hotline is: 1-855-VA-Women, or 1-855-823-6696.  

(Source: http://www.ptsdunited.org/ptsd-statistics-2/ & Jill LaMantia)

 

? For More Information, Contact:

 

Jill LaMantia

WNY Women Veterans Program Manager

716-862-8891

Jill.lamantia@va.gov

 


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