Emotional Support Networks Help Female Veterans Suffering From PTSD
May 31, 2015
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in 2008, 11% of veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations were women, and women veterans are the fastest growing group of veterans. VA data also shows that among women veterans, 20% have been diagnosed with PTSD. Additionally, lifetime prevalence of PTSD in women is alarmingly high, with 9.7% suffering from PTSD after traumatic exposure compared to 3.6% in men. While deployed, female veterans experience a variety of stressors and trauma, including combat-support operations, military sexual trauma (MST), feeling alone, and worrying about family. These traumas and stressors make it difficult for women returning from military service to transition to civilian life, which can develop into, or worsen, already existing PTSD symptoms. A study conducted by the National Center for PTSD found that support networks of family and friends helps to reduce the symptoms of PTSD among our female veterans.
High levels of social support after war can have significant benefits for female veterans suffering from PTSD or struggling to transition to civilian life. Even though PTSD can make you feel like isolating yourself, do anything you can to avoid doing so. Reach out to friends and family. Women who have a support network of family and friends have fewer PTSD symptoms. Emotional support, especially having someone to talk to and who really cares, helps women to adjust more easily to civilian life. The study also found that women veterans with PTSD showed fewer PTSD symptoms when they had family or friends to rely on to assist them during times of need.
If you are a female veteran suffering from PTSD and are feeling alone, there are resources out there to assist. The WOVEN Women Veterans Network for example is a “community of women veterans spanning all ages, services, ranks, experiences, and geographies” who provide social support, resources, and camaraderie to their fellow veterans. You can also visit VetsPrevail.org to take advantage of mental health programs and resources. Prevail Health is a trusted veteran and service member mental health partner.