Women serve in our military in greater numbers than ever before, both in combat zones and as combat support. Many women who serve in the military develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their service, but treatment is available to help them manage their symptoms and live stable lives.
Causes and Consequences of PTSD among Women Veterans
Women represent the fastest growing group of veterans in the U.S. military. Women serving in the military may develop PTSD as a result of personal combat experiences or traumatic events witnessed in combat. While men and women veterans develop PTSD at similar rates and often for the same reasons, women react differently to PTSD than do men. Men tend to become angry, exhibit hostility and seek escape in substance abuse, whereas women are much more likely to turn their hostility inward, blame themselves and become depressed and withdrawn. However substance abuse is also common among women suffering from PTSD.
Programs to Help Women Veterans with PTSD
Fortunately women respond well to treatment for PTSD. Women may be more comfortable talking about their problems and are more willing to open up and share than men, and they benefit from counseling to address PTSD. Women who have a strong support network of family and friends to whom they can talk are less likely to develop PTSD in the first place. There are now programs that focus on the specific needs of women with PTSD.
In response to the increasing number of women in the military and with PTSD, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has implemented specific programs to treat women veterans with PTSD, including the Women Veterans Health Program and the Center for Women Veterans. In addition, every VA hospital now has a Women Veterans Program Manager to administer programs designed specifically for women. For information regarding programs for women veterans contact your local VA and ask to speak to the Women Veterans Program Manager, or call The Department of Veteran’s Affairs Center for Women Veterans. There are also private facilities that specialize in the treatment of PTSD. Following the philosophy that women often feel more comfortable and are more likely to open up in settings with other women, some private facilities cater to women specifically.
Help for Women Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
If you are a female veteran or current member of our armed forces and are concerned about PTSD, call our toll-free helpline. We are here for you 24 hours a day, and we can provide assessments, information and options for recovery.