A difficult conversation subject for many military service members and their loved ones is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Feelings of shame and weakness cause many PTSD sufferers to try to overcome the symptoms on their own, which is rarely successful. Civilian nurses are often the first contact that veterans and military service personnel encounter in the healthcare system when seeking care. Creating awareness and providing RNs with tools to diagnose PTSD will go a long way toward helping PTSD patients to successfully transition back to civilian life.
PTSD Awareness Month
Following trauma, most people experience stress reactions but many do not develop PTSD. Mental health experts are not sure why some people develop PTSD and others do not. However, if stress reactions do not improve over time and they disrupt everyday life, seeking help to determine if PTSD is a factor is important. PTSD is treatable and curable.
June has been designated by the Senate as PTSD Awareness Month, and the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a number of ways to get involved, including promotional materials, social media tips, and videos. The VA hopes to encourage everyone to raise public awareness of PTSD and its effective treatments.
PTSD Toolkit for Civilian RNs
The American Nurses Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing developed an online PTSD toolkit, which is soon going to be available in a mobile app, created by Lippincott Solutions. Currently, the toolkit consists of a PTSD-focused website and an e-learning module to teach RNs how to assess for PTSD, intervene, and refer patients for treatment.
“Nurses often represent the first point of contact for veterans and military personnel seeking care. We want them to have tools to help veterans find the help they need to transition back to civilian life,” says Nancy Hanrahan, PhD, RN, FAAN, who led the toolkit’s development. “PTSD can be treated and cured. Failed transitions from military life to civilian life are unacceptable outcomes.”
One such failed transition caused the death of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL whose autobiography, American Sniper, was made into a major motion picture last year. On February 2, 2013, Kyle and a companion, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch Lodge Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Both men were armed with .45-caliber 1911-style pistols when they were killed, but neither gun had been unholstered or fired. The safety catches were still on.
Routh was a 25-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Lancaster, Texas. Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken Routh to the gun range in an effort to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder. Routh had been in and out of mental hospitals for at least two years and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His family also said he suffered from PTSD from his time in the military.
Do you know anyone who suffers from PTSD? If you are a nurse, have you diagnosed a patient with PTSD? What do you think can be done to heighten awareness of PTSD among nurses and clinicians? What more can nurses do when faced with a patient with PTSD?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below - and, stay tuned to LippincottSolutions.com/ptsd for more news about our FREE PTSD Mobile App, coming soon!
I was diagnosed in 2005 after deployment. No further treatment until 2011, horrible treatment at the military facilities, by military physicians. Peer support is key. I have learned a lot about myself & embraced my experiences, just finding a place now is the biggest problem. The journey is tough, i'm not about to give up.
i am a nurse with PTSD-combat related. wrong question i think.