A Psychiatrist's Perspective: The Assault at Fort Hood and the Military's Mental Health Crisis - Page 2
I interviewed a psychiatrist, Iva Timmerman, from the VA hospital in San Antonio, TX. She has been a VA psychiatrist for 22 years. Her first response was, "The army's attitude is to hide the scars in the active troops". She also said that money is an issue. In terms of alcohol abuse she said, "It is accepted. the guys go through so much. They go out and drink together to relieve their stress...they don't want to get treatment because that will be on their record and can prevent them from getting a promotion... they don't want to let their buddies down and have to leave for treatment". This is her conjecture about troops on active duty.
Dr. Timmerman informed me that the military is taking some preventative measures to help the troops. The State of Texas is using state funds to have peer to peer counseling groups among the soldiers which has less stigma than being seen by a psychiatrist or a mental health counselor. There is a also now a program for PTSD that has proven benefit called Prolonged Exposure Therapy where the soldier will record all the details of the traumatic events and will listen to it over and over until he/she reacts less to reliving the trauma. It is a painful process that can take place over 2-3 years, but has shown to be beneficial. It is a proven technique supported by studies.
It is imperative that the military treat the soldiers mental health issues before any more tragedies occur. In Hasan's case, there were plenty of warning signs that, in retrospect, should have been taken more seriously.
Our troops are fighting for our freedom and deserve to have both the mental and physical consequences incurred from their efforts addressed in a way that they can return to a healthy and fulfilling life.
Author's note: If you think you or someone you care about are drinking too much, click here to read my free guide about the symptoms of alcoholism to assess if you or a loved may have an alcohol problem.