« Back to all Disability Topics

Veterans Issues

Note to active military, veterans and their families. The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. appreciates your service to our country. Now it is our turn to help you pursue your goals of employment, independent living and accessing services.

The following resources may be helpful to military troops, veterans, their families, and those who are working with them. This collection is not meant to be comprehensive but rather a starting point.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror. PTSD can result from personally experienced traumas (e.g., rape, war, natural disasters, abuse, serious accidents, and captivity) or from the witnessing or learning of a violent or tragic event.

While it is common to experience a brief state of anxiety or depression after such occurrences, people with PTSD continually re-experience the traumatic event; avoid individuals, thoughts, or situations associated with the event; and have symptoms of excessive emotions. People with this disorder have these symptoms for longer than one month and cannot function as well as they did before the traumatic event. PTSD symptoms usually appear within three months of the traumatic experience; however, they sometimes occur months or even years later.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Although the symptoms for individuals with PTSD can vary considerably, they generally fall into three categories:

  • Re-experience - Individuals with PTSD often experience recurrent and intrusive recollections of and/or nightmares about the stressful event. Some may experience flashbacks, hallucinations, or other vivid feelings of the event happening again. Others experience great psychological or physiological distress when certain things (objects, situations, etc.) remind them of the event.
  • Avoidance - Many with PTSD will persistently avoid things that remind them of the traumatic event. This can result in avoiding everything from thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the incident to activities, places, or people that cause them to recall the event. In others there may be a general lack of responsiveness signaled by an inability to recall aspects of the trauma, a decreased interest in formerly important activities, a feeling of detachment from others, a limited range of emotion, and/or feelings of hopelessness about the future.
  • Increased arousal - Symptoms in this area may include difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, becoming very alert or watchful, and/or jumpiness or being easily startled.

People with PTSD may also have other problems. These include:

  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Employment problems
  • Relationships problems including divorce and violence
  • Physical symptoms

Additional PTSD Resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Helpguide.org
  • Vietnam Veterans of American Guide to PTSD

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from "mild," i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to "severe," i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function. Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

Additional Resources

Suicide Prevention

Note:  The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. is NOT a crisis intervention agency.   If you are thinking of hurting yourself, or if you are concerned that someone else may be suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has founded a national suicide prevention hotline to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. To operate the Veterans Hotline, the VA partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans can call the Lifeline number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and press "1" to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

Veteran specific risks:

  • Frequent deployments
  • Deployments to hostile environments
  • Exposure to extreme stress
  • Physical/sexual assault while in the service (not limited to women)
  • Length of deployments
  • Service related injury

Additional Resources

Resources

  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 
  • Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors 
  • National Resource Directory for Wounded, Ill and Injured Service Members and Veterans 
  • Florida Resource Directory 
  • The Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) 
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America 
  • Military Disability Discharges and Military Counseling 
  • Disabled American Veterans 
  • Veterans with Service Connected Disabilities 
  • Military Connection Education and Employment Directory 
  • American Red Cross 
  • National Coalition for the Homeless – Homeless Veterans 
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Veteran Resource Center 
  • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans 
  • Legal Assistance for Veterans 
  • Injured Veterans Compensation and Benefits Handbook 
  • Veterans with Service-Connected Disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act