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5 Ways Veterans Can Support PTSD Treatment
Recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be an ongoing process. You have already shown a great amount of strength by taking the first step to reach out and get treatment. Seeking care early from a health care provider can lead to successful health outcomes.
There are options outside of treatment that can have a positive effect on your recovery. Consider the following five ways to support your return to peak performance.
1. Follow Your Provider’s Guidance
It is important to follow the treatment plan from your provider to ensure maximum recovery. This can include:
- Taking medications as prescribed
- Staying engaged in appointments and asking questions
- Making time for your health needs like completing any follow up homework
2. Continue Your Education with Support from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Obtaining a degree can help support recovery. Enrolling in a degree or certificate program can help focus your energy toward learning and ways to be involved in productive activities.
Read about these resources to learn how to take charge of your education:
- Post-9/11 GI Bill (Read our overview on what the Post-9/11 GI Bill means for you).
- The Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty
- The Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP)
3. Set Goals
Achieving goals can help you feel more empowered in your quest for full recovery. Goal setting can help you break down larger, long-term goals into smaller, easily achievable goals. It can keep you focused and motivated.
Consider keeping a journal and writing down your goals for the immediate future. When writing your goals, keep them SMART. S – specific, M – measurable, A – achievable, R – relevant, T – time-based.
Share your goals with your health care provider to make sure they won’t affect your treatment. For example, if one of your goals is to return to work or volunteer, your health care provider can help you set a timeline and give tips to help ease the transition. Another example is if one of your goals is to start working out at home alone, your provider may adjust your goal to work out in a gym to increase your social interactions.
4. Exercise to Relax Your Body and Mind
Exercise can benefit those coping with PTSD [PDF 385KB]. For instance, running, swimming, weight lifting and walking can help reduce physical tension. Other activities can support relaxation goals, such as meditation and yoga.
Benefits may include:
- Developing more energy and confidence
- Creating feelings of personal control
- Improving self-esteem
- Distracting yourself from difficult emotions or thoughts
5. Lean on Your Social Support Network
Stress injuries are common among veterans. This means there are also other warriors who have experienced what you are going through. In addition to seeking care, consider attending support groups. Support groups can offer veterans coping with PTSD a sense of community and encouragement during a time of uncertainty. These groups focus on topics ranging from overcoming daily challenges to entering into VA or DoD counseling programs. Find a support group near you:
Reestablishing or increasing contact with friends, family or colleagues can also help your recovery. You may feel like they don’t completely understand what you experienced, but having people around who care about you and are available to listen can be beneficial. Research shows that our social relationships can have a significant effect on our health [PDF 61.4KB]. Reach out for help:
- DCoE Outreach Center (866-966-1020) – 24/7 confidential support from a trained health resource consultant
- Real Warriors Live Chat
- Real Warriors App
- Make the Connection
- VA – Where to Get Help for PTSD
- VA resources for Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom
- GI Bill Information (888-442-4551)
- Montgomery GI Bill
Find a job:
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management
- The Veterans Employment Coordination Service
- Provides five ways veterans can support their PTSD treatment while working with a health care provider