Defining the Impact
Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) is believed to be caused by the experience of a wide range of traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, serious injury or threats of imminent death and, in particular if the trauma is extreme, can occur in persons with no predisposing conditions. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event and hyperarousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event.
In the typical case, the individual with PTS persistently avoids all thoughts and emotions and discussion of the stressor event and may experience amnesia around it. However, the individual commonly relives the event through intrusive, recurrent recollections, flashbacks, and nightmares. Without treatment, PTS can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, reliving terror, heart attacks, depression, dementia, stroke and suicide.
A Growing National Crisis
PTS among U.S. military personnel has reached epidemic proportions. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 830,000 Vietnam War veterans suffered symptoms of PTS. Today, one in four veterans is diagnosed with PTS and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war era – Wave Academy’s primary focus – have the most cases of diagnosed PTS than any group before, and are at the highest risk of suicide.
Of the more than 2.6 million service men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, data indicates that 20-35 percent have come home with PTS. Approx. 1,000 veterans of these wars are diagnosed with PTS every week. There are tens of thousands of families struggling with the devastating effects of PTS – evidenced by the alarming statistic that 20 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.
Veteran suicide rates in California are three times higher than among civilians. In San Diego – home to one of the largest military populations in the country – the need for support is growing exponentially. Military families are faced with caring for loved one with PTS symptoms of violence, isolation and depression and desperately seek methods to keep them from hurting themselves or others.
The national impact of this crisis is staggering. The Department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $600 million to treat veterans with PTS in 2013. Research from the VA on the impact of PTS on families has shown that veterans with PTS have more marital problems and family violence and their children have more behavior problems than do those of veterans without PTS. Families of veterans with the most severe symptoms suffer the most.
Integrative Approaches for Pain Management for Military Personnel and Veterans
There are many definitions of “integrative” health care, but all involve bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States.
Chronic pain is a common problem among active-duty military personnel and veterans. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors. The goal is to help patients feel and function better and reduce their need for pain medicines that can have serious side effects.
Wave Academy is taking action to stem the escalating problems of dysfunction and suicide among our service men and woman and offset these enormous emotional and financial costs by providing early intervention and powerful healing treatment. By providing Aquatic Bodywork Therapy in San Diego, home to one of the largest military populations in the country, we are actively healing families, saving lives from suicide and creating hope in the lives of men and women who honorably gave their lives in service to our country.