Did you know…
Although years of data released from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) indicated that 22 veterans a day commit suicide, their latest analyzation of 2014 data indicates that the number is closer to 20.24 per day. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Suicide Prevention, Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans 2001-2014, July 2016)
30% of veterans who committed suicide had used Veterans Health Administration (VHA) services in the calendar year preceding their death.
Military veterans are 22% more likely to commit suicide compared to civilian adults in the United States. (Source: Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Suicide Prevention, Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans 2001-2014, July 2016)
A greater number of police officers and firefighters commit suicide than are killed in the line of duty. (Source: The Ruderman White Paper on Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders, April 2018)
- In 2017, 140 police officers committed suicide, compared to 129 who died in the line of duty.
- In 2017, 103 firefighters committed suicide, compared to 93 who died in the line of duty.
Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event, such as military combat, natural disasters, critical incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adulthood or childhood. Signs and symptoms of PTSD include:
Upsetting memories or “flashbacks”
Outbursts of anger or irritability
Quick startle response
Intense feelings of fear
Intense feelings of helplessness
Avoiding situations that will trigger memories of the traumatic event
Feeling emotionally numb
Isolation from others
Substance abuse (alcohol or drugs)
(Source: VA National Center for PTSD, February 2010)
Not all wounds are visible. First, know that you are not alone. There is hope for individuals suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. More information on effective, user-friendly treatments is below.
The VDK Protocol is notable because it causes little discomfort to the client and can be administered in any normal quiet room by Masters level counselors after a four-day certification training, with two post treatments and a certification call at two weeks. It does not involve drugs or costly equipment and is a relatively quick therapy. It’s administered by Masters level counselors, or by a practitioner legally allowable by the laws of the state they are working.
In clinical trials VDK removed the nightmare and flashback symptoms of PTS in less than half the time of current therapies, often in less than two or three sessions. VDK administered shortly after veterans return home can remove the symptoms and stop the PTS Syndrome from developing. The results to date are phenomenal – a ninety percent remission of PTS diagnosis and clinical symptoms.
VDK begins by questioning the client until he or she responds physiologically. Typically, this includes changes in breathing, heart rate and vocal pitch. The response is only allowed to continue until the physiology changes. It is stopped before re-traumatization can occur. As soon as this state is identified, the dissociation begins by asking the client to imagine he or she is in a movie theater. On the screen is a still image of the client performing some neutral activity in a safe context, at a time before the trauma occurred. Then, he or she is asked to imagine floating away from his or her body in the theater to a projection booth. From this vantage point, he or she is instructed to watch him or herself in the theater, watching themselves on the screen.
After establishing these three levels of dissociation, the client is instructed to watch a black and white picture of themselves on the screen of the movie theater at a time before the traumatic event. As he focuses on the imagined picture, he is directed to watch himself in the theater as he watches a black and white movie of the traumatic event. He watches himself in the theater watching the event until a safe time after the trauma has fully passed. This process is repeated until watching the entire movie can be done without any observable discomfort. When he can watch the movie comfortably, he is asked to step into it and experience the entire sequence, fully associated, in color, in reverse and at very high speed. When the trauma can be talked about with no discomfort, the intervention is presumed to have worked.
Transitioning out of a service career
Transition out of a service career adds to the stress of dealing with trauma experienced while in these roles. Those who choose service careers, such as the military and first responders, all too often take on the identity of their profession, instead of maintaining an individual identity apart from the profession. It’s the nature of the job. When they retire or leave service, they thus lose their identity and feel lost and isolated.
In 2012, Prudential conducted a survey to better understand veterans’ experiences and perceptions around finding civilian careers after transitioning out of service. Sadly, the survey revealed that 64% of veterans reported having a difficult transition from military service to civilian life. A few of the greatest challenges of transitioning to civilian life were figuring out what was next, relating to non-veteran civilians, and readjusting to social life. These challenges also apply to our first responders who are retiring or leaving their profession.
The struggle some are experiencing may not be PTSD related, but may simply be a result of transitioning out of a service career. Isolation, depression, feelings of helplessness can result from this transition. Do not be afraid to ask for help.