Tags: benefits | finding | veteran | support | group

5 Benefits to Finding a Veteran Support Group

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Oct 2017 11:02 AM

Many veterans return home with psychological wounds that the general public simply cannot understand, but peer support has been found to make a big difference for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In fact, peer support groups for veterans have proven so successful that the Stanford School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System launched a program in 2014 to train vets to help others in support groups.

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Psychiatrist and PTSD expert Jonathan Shay said in a press release announcing the program that he finds the traditional treatment model and the stigma around it stifling for former military members.

“I’m convinced that’s where peers come in. Peers are indispensable. It takes a community to heal these wounds,” he said.

Here are some of the benefits of seeking out a veteran support group:

1. It helps to know you’re not aloneAs WebMD put it, discovering that others share similar mental challenges is often a huge relief for patients.

Support groups will decrease any sense of isolation, and connecting with others sharing the same struggle can often help patients open up and share their own experiences and feelings.

2. You’ll find a place to express yourselfAccording to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, sharing your feelings with others who understand, or listening to their stories, may help you feel more comfortable talking about your trauma.

Another PTSD expert, Dr. David Spiegel, said it’s important for vets to find a group where they feel like they fit in.

“The very thing that makes them feel excluded on the outside is an instant bond and connection with other vets," he said in the Stanford release.

A peer support group is a confidential and accepting space where Resolve.org says people feel more at ease expressing negative feelings without taking them out on loved ones.

3. You’ll get a fresh perspective — When you listen to other people share similar stories from their viewpoint, you may get a fresh perspective on your own.

According to The Art of Living, an individual’s perceptions are based on their comprehension of a situation, their misunderstandings, sleep, and memory.

Our minds tend to hang on to negative perceptions, but the National Alliance for Mental Illness says many patients gain insight into their own issues when they hear about the challenges and successes of others.

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4. You’ll learn new coping skills — Just as hearing other people’s stories will show you’re not alone and help you better understand your own struggle, you’ll also be able to learn new coping strategies from people who are further along in their healing journey.

Peer support groups are a great place to learn tips to cope with the day-to day challenges you encounter from people who’ve had similar experiences.

Learning symptom management skills is also a fairly standard practice in most support groups.

5. You’ll hear stories of hope — Hearing other people talk about overcoming mental illness is like being shown the light at the end of the tunnel.

In a support group, you’ll get the chance to connect with people who have already walked the path you are on. Besides offering much needed guidance for your healing journey, knowing that you can live a normal life will give you the strength to keep working at it.

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Many veterans return home with psychological wounds that the general public simply cannot understand, but peer support has been found to make a big difference for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.
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2017-02-11
Wednesday, 11 Oct 2017 11:02 AM
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