March 24, 2010 - The Spokane Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center offers therapy for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some veterans have discovered writing helps with this therapy. The number of veterans returning from deployment and showing signs of PTSD is at an all time high and still growing.
Many soldiers are able to seamlessly return to civilian life following a deployment; though not every veteran is this lucky. According to a Department of Defense study, approximately 16% of returning Iraq veterans displayed signs of PTSD. Of that number, however, only 40% were willing to get help. The rest feared differential treatment or other backlashes from commanders and fellow troops.
Some veterans are finding solace in writing down particularly troubling memories. Some veterans have found writing about these memories helps to get the emotions out in the open so they can be handled by the soldier in therapy. Putting a voice to memories may help other people understand just what veterans are dealing with and may help give insight in how to deal with specific bad memories or disturbing and detrimental thought processes.
Therapy helps veterans "short circuit" their patterns of thought. When veterans suffering from PTSD feel themselves slipping into negative or harmful thoughts, they are taught to slow down their thought process and question whether the thinking is rational. It is hoped that this type of writing therapy will teach veterans to overcome their irrational thoughts and better cope with the fear or panic overcoming them.
Writing helps veterans remember what happened and confront it without carrying the burden of those memories on a daily basis. Writing down the memories has proven to be a double edged sword, however. The memories plaguing the veterans are the same ones they do not want to forget. Many veterans believe they are who they are because of their experiences. The therapy then, is what teaches the veterans to successfully maintain this balance
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