June 26, 2017

Data Suggests Over 19,000 Maine Veterans May Have Experienced PTSD

For Immediate Release Contact: Laura Allen Maine Bureau of Veterans Services 207-446-0168 Laura.E.Allen@maine.gov

Data Suggests Over 19,000 Maine Veterans May Have Experienced PTSD Maine Bureau of Veterans Services highlights signs, symptoms of PTSD and where to go for help

AUGUSTA, MAINE (June 26, 2017) – Tuesday, June 27, is National PTSD Awareness Day. According to the VA’s National Center for PTSD, upwards of 15% of veterans experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In Maine, which has a veteran population of 127,000, that equates to over 19,000 veterans in the state who may have experienced or are at risk of experiencing PTSD symptoms.

PTSD develops after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as a major accident or intense combat. Symptoms typically begin soon after the traumatic event, but they can also appear months later or come and go over many years. Feelings of hopelessness, depression or anxiety, excessive drinking or drug use, chronic pain, and employment or relationship issues are often signs that someone is suffering from PTSD.

For veterans, the symptoms of PTSD often have complex underpinnings, such as survivor’s guilt or a realization that their responsibilities in civilian life will rarely match the intensity and significance of what they did in the military. There is also a reluctance among veterans to ask for help.

“Within the military chain-of-command, service members learn to relentlessly advocate for others, as a result, self-advocacy and asking for personal help is usually a significant barrier to healing,” noted Adria Horn, Director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services. “But the intent of PTSD Awareness Day is to break down the stigma surrounding this issue and to encourage people to acknowledge how they are feeling and then to act on it by seeking assistance.”

Traditional symptoms of PTSD may mirror symptoms of another common injury related to military service – Traumatic Brain Injury – making self-advocacy, and seeking a true diagnosis and appropriate treatment that much more critical. For aging veterans, latent symptoms of untreated PTSD may become stronger later in life and be present in conjunction with or an early sign of dementia.

Horn emphasized that anyone – a veteran struggling with PTSD; a family member concerned about their parent, child, husband, wife; or an employer worried about a veteran in their workforce – can connect with the Bureau for assistance understanding and accessing available resources. As research into the causes and treatments of PTSD has evolved, there has been a growing acceptance that diverse approaches can create a very personalized and effective approach to therapy and healing.

“In addition to our traditional individual counseling and support group approaches, all of our Vet Centers offer a variety of alternative programs such as guitar classes, book groups, and social outings to barbecues and bowling alleys,” stated Scott Hutcherson, Director of the Lewiston Vet Center. “Sometimes, just the ability to be among other veterans who are experiencing similar emotions and challenges can be therapeutic in and of itself.”

Individuals seeking assistance with managing PTSD symptoms can contact the Bureau for assistance enrolling in VA healthcare, filing for disability compensation and providing local connections to programs such as acupuncture, equine therapy, or service dog providers in addition to traditional therapies. There are many programs available to Maine veterans and the Bureau is committed to helping veterans find the approach that will work best for them.

For more information on National PTSD Awareness Day please visit: www.ptsd.va.gov/.

To obtain assistance for PTSD, please contact the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services at 207-430-6035 or visit their website www.maine.gov/veterans to learn more about available resources. Maine’s Vet Centers provide counseling and support for combat veterans and MST survivors. Please visit www.maine.va.gov/visitors/VetCenters.asp to learn more.

About Maine Bureau of Veterans Services The Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services was established in 1947 by the State of Maine and is part of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management. Our mission is to help Mainers who served, and their loved ones, understand and navigate the benefits, services, and programs available to them. The Bureau does this by being a responsive, experienced, and dedicated advocate. The Bureau is headquartered at Camp Keyes and has seven field service offices located throughout the state and a claims office located at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Togus, Maine. The Bureau also operates the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery System which includes four veterans’ cemeteries. For more information about the Bureau or to request assistance, please visit our website at www.maine.gov/veterans.