Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like war, an assault, or a disaster.

Due to the severity of emotional problems that PTSD can cause, the Veteran's Administration (VA) enacted regulations that classify PTSD as an injury. This enabled veterans to receive monetary benefits, but only in limited cases, according to Rick Torres, Veteran Services Manager for Collier County, Florida.

Disability Benefits Due to PTSD

A veteran must file a formal claim using forms provided by the VA's Veterans Benefits Administration. After the forms are submitted, he or she must complete interviews. In some cases, monetary benefits are provided, depending on the severity of the illness as determined by the VA. The process of applying for a VA disability for PTSD can be long and stressful. To help vets through the claim process, Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) provide "service officers" at no cost.

Who is Covered for VA Care?

VA services are provided to all veterans who have:

  • Completed active military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard (or Merchant Marines during WW II)
  • Been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
  • Completed a federal deployment to a combat zone as National Guard members and Reservists

What Services are Offered?

Although many vets won't qualify for monetary compensation, they are eligible for PTSD support that is provided by PTSD treatment programs nationwide. Each program offers:

  • One-to-one mental health assessment and testing
  • Medications
  • One-to-one psychotherapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy (covers topics such as anger and stress, combat support, partners, or groups for Veterans of specific conflicts

Additionally, the VA offers Specialized Intensive PTSD Programs, which provide treatment in a "therapeutic community," many of which are live-in residences.

  • PTSD Day Hospitals are outpatient and provide one-to-one and group treatment for 4 to 8 hours each visit. Patients come in daily or several times a week.
  • Evaluation and Brief Treatment of PTSD Units provide PTSD treatment for 14 to 28 days.
  • PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Programs provide PTSD treatment and case management. The goal is to help the trauma survivor return to healthy living in the community. Stays at a PRRP tend to be 28 to 90 days long.
  • Specialized Inpatient PTSD Units provide trauma-focused treatment. Hospital stays last from 28 to 90 days.
  • PTSD Domiciliary provides live-in treatment for a set period of time. The goal is to help the Veteran get better and move to outpatient mental health care.
  • Women's Trauma Recovery Program focuses on war zone-related stress as well as Military Sexual Trauma. The program is 60 days long.

The VA has nearly 200 PTSD treatment programs. A referral is usually needed to access the specialty programs. Use the VA PTSD Program Locator to see if there is a specialized program near you.

Information provided by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.

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