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Trauma in the Military Community

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

The United States Army, Army Reserve, Marine Corp, Air Force, and Navy are all involved in traumatic experiences regularly. Often, they have to normalize this trauma and learn to cope to get through their tours of duty and continue forward to complete the mission. However, many military personnel would benefit greatly from counseling and therapy services, especially EMDR and trauma-focused counseling to help them process and deal with their trauma appropriately.

Are There Degrees of trauma?

Previous posts have discussed trauma at length in an effort to help our readers better understand and validate their own experiences and symptoms. Even so, we, even clinical professionals, tend to identify “big T” and “little t” traumas, implying big, life changing events, and smaller invalidating experiences, respectively.

What we sometimes ignore can be the universal experience of living through events. Further perpetuating the complexity of this is the effect of normalizing an extremely damaging and overwhelming experience because, well … we have to.

If a horrible thing is happening around us and there is very little or nothing we can do about it, we have to find ways to just live around it. We have all been doing this for some time now as we attempt to cope with the daily challenges of the ongoing pandemic and arguably, we have become rather adept at it.

Trauma in the Military

A population which is quite skilled at normalizing seemingly insurmountable difficulties, I would argue, is the military community. Within military culture, having an emotional concern, mental injury, or injury at all, is not typically something shared widely. Military members commonly join with the intention of serving their country fully and wholly; injury of any sort represents a threat not only to their duty, but also their mission, as well as to their careers and security clearances.

According to the APA, of the military members returning from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, 20% experienced post-traumatic stress-related symptoms, while only 10% may have sought treatment.

Mental health care can be very stigmatized, especially in the military where mental health concerns could threaten lives, the mission, and the security of those who serve with you. That however, doesn't mean that military personnel should not seek treatment for mental health concerns. Quite the opposite. It is even more imperative that those in the armed forces receive the care they need.

Regardless of the impact, however, the stigma remains, as does the intensity of flashbacks and triggers. As you may have read before, when the brain is triggered, it’s incapable of determining if it is remembering a traumatic event, or the event itself is happening again -- so it reacts accordingly. All of these complicating factors make the obstacles to getting appropriate mental healthcare all the greater.

Our brains find ways of dealing with our traumas, though, if there is a stigma against seeking mental healthcare. We learn to normalize and tuck things away in order to just get through.

How Mindsight Can Help Those Suffering From Trauma

Our duty as counselors is to serve our clients wherever they are and to respect our clients’ goals while providing a confidential environment free from harm and judgment which contributes to a client’s healing.

Mindsight wants you to know we are here when you are ready and that your mental health matters.

For immediate care, the Veteran Crisis Line is available at 800-273-8255 and is available 24/7.

What's Next?


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