The percentage of the Veteran population in VA care in FY13 who had no mental health diagnoses, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs -- National Veteran Health Equity Report, which "details patterns and provides comparative rates of health conditions for vulnerable Veteran groups."
At least 60% of military Veterans who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan have enrolled in care in the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, many Veterans are reluctant to seek mental treatment. A recent study suggests that about one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who have major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and over half of those who acknowledge alcohol misuse, do not choose to get mental health treatment in the year following screening (Elbogen et al., 2013).
I never served. My time would have been during the Vietnam War. But from 1970-1974, I completed my undergraduate studies under a 2-S student deferment; when President Nixon revoked the student deferment with a new draft bill in September 1971, the first to be impacted were men in the Class of ’75 – those a year behind me. When the draft lottery was held in August of 1971 for men in my cohort, I drew #264. (Had I been born on December 4th of 1952 instead of January 4th, I would have drawn #1.) And so I transitioned uninterrupted from undergraduate to graduate studies, completing my doctoral degree three years after the fall of Saigon.
Welcome back to part two of our discussion about mindfulness-based interventions. Last time, I shared some of my experiences of leading mindfulness groups for Veterans. I also introduced the concept of a Zen koan as a way of approaching the question, “should I be teaching Veterans to meditate?” In the second part of this blog, I will discuss some additional considerations you might want to make when deciding if you should offer mindfulness to your clients. Before we launch into that, did you do your homework? Have you spent some time sitting with your koan since the last blog? If so, feel free to write any questions or considerations that came up during your practice in the comments section.
It should not surprise you to hear that employment is critical for good mental health and can even be part of the treatment for your clients who may have mental health issues. Even though you are not a career counselor, you can still have an enormous impact on your Veteran clients by helping them in their search for post-military employment. This blog will outline the mental health benefits of employment and explain why you should consider integrating the issue of employment into your repertoire of tools for helping your clients. It then suggests how you can help your Veteran clients with their search for employment and lists resources that you can use with them.