Research on PTSD says that the best outcomes are associated with group support, and that most often comes in the form of peer support. Military members have that built-in peer network while in the service, and it is critical to make sure that veterans have support when they get out as well. At RRRP we often get calls from veterans who are isolated and alone and do not necessarily know where to go for help. Symptoms associated with PTSD, panic disorder, anxiety and depression can make the idea of getting out with others seem daunting. It is the job of RRRP’s Veteran Transition Managers to bridge these veterans to much-needed support. Vet Centers and the VA OEF/OIF/OND clinics often run support groups for veterans. For those struggling with alcohol or substance addictions, AA and 12-step groups are life-saving sources of peer support. Here at IAVA we have worked hard to foster support through our monthly VetTogethers, which are social gatherings led by vets. Last week VetTogethers all over the country convened at movie theaters to watch American Sniper, with the idea that seeing the movie with peers would provide the most understanding environment in which to see a story with so many reminders. At RRRP we are also working closely with IAVA members identified as RRRP ambassadors, talking with them about making sure veterans they encounter know how to reach RRRP for help. IAVA also has an online platform called myIAVA, which you can access here http://iava.org/program/myiava/ to talk with other vets in an online community forum.
Last week RRRP’s referrals to community-based resources ranked second on our list of referral areas, and we continue to reduce the stress levels of veterans by roughly 1 point on a scale of 1-5, all of which speaks to the power of group support.
“Hannah, thank you and the rest of the IAVA for helping me and making it crystal clear that I am not alone in what I am going through. I’ve spent most of the past two and a half years since I’ve been back believing I was alone. But I’m not alone. THANK YOU.”